The Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) released the draft versions of updated regulations for medical and adult-use cannabis in the great Commonwealth. And assuming no significant changes between the draft and ratification (temporary measures have a habit of becoming permanent), it is worth reviewing the changes made to the regulations. Here we will review the security components including but not limited to 935 CMR 500.110 and 935 CMR 501.110.
Marijuana Social Consumption Establishments - 935 CMR 500.141
When Question 4 passed in 2018, social lounges were a hot topic since, although Amsterdam was well known for its cannabis cafes, no state had broadly encouraged licensing for social consumption areas. Although the CCC was encouraging of lounges, involved parties agreed to wait until 2019 to discuss lounges, i.e. take it slow. Now 2019 is here and we have seen some regulations and structure in California and Colorado. Nonetheless, lounge implementation on the East Coast could prove to be its own animal.
On paper, security for a lounge reads similarly to security for a dispensary (in practice, reality is not so kind). Businesses will have to take steps to hide consumers and products from public view and secure doors more carefully since purchasers are not required to leave the premises. Much like a bar, budtenders cannot overserve consumers or sell more than 20 mg of Δ9-THC to a single consumer. Designers have the challenge of not only compliance but providing reasonable expectations of comfort for consumers who want to vape versus those that do not want to smell or breath vape, all the while limiting the potential for consumers to violate rules which apply to them, e.g. disposing of unused marijuana products in a secure receptacle.
Delivery of Marijuana and Marijuana Products to Consumers – 935 CMR 500.145
Many entrepreneurs see delivery of anything, not just marijuana, as a premier business model due to lower real estate costs, labor costs, and greater ease of purchasing by consumers. However, just like cash transportation, putting an abundance of valuable assets in something that travels easily creates a lot of security risks not only for the businesses but especially for drivers and employees. Massachusetts and California business owners have asked similar questions to the states, each of which has responded differently. California emphatically has rejected certain geographical limits on delivery vehicles. Meanwhile, Massachusetts prevents delivery vehicles from operating in municipalities which banned marijuana.
Discretion is required so you won’t see vans with leaves drawn on them. Although requiring contact with the retail store every 30 minutes, the “ice cream van” business model a la Eaze appears to be permitted since Massachusetts is allowing $10,000 worth of marijuana products in a vehicle and requiring an individual to remain in the vehicle while there is product. But a thorough logbook and a GPS will ensure that businesses adhere to regulations and that drivers are safe.
Emphasis on Cash Management and Communication with Law Enforcement
Cash is still king in the marijuana industry. It also creates vulnerabilities for employees, customers, and businesses. Normally, the number of security regulations directed at cash is dwarfed by the number directed at cannabis. With that said, the CCC clearly emphasized that marijuana establishments should be practicing secure protocols for handling and storing cash and currencies. The new regulations specifically requiring standard operation procedures (SOPs) for cash handling and cash transportation by armored vehicles. Cameras must be directed at cash safes (which should be TL-rated, not simply fire resistant!). Also ensure you have backup power and alarm monitoring systems.
Other notable changes include reworded sections which emphasize that law enforcement needs to be kept in the loop. We recommend this on principle, but now you must make local law enforcement aware of flammable or combustible solvents as well as the floor plan of your location. Essentially, the CCC is emphasizing that security is best practiced by the experts. Although identifying service vendors may cost more in the short term, this practice greatly reduces risks and can save you much more in the long term.
Belichick the Regulations Regularly
This review is not all-inclusive, but rather we seek to create awareness that the Code of Massachusetts Regulations will be modified and it will effect changes in security plans. In a market that has seen great evolution over the last 3 years, businesses will be required to adapt. Don’t be a Pedro Martinez screwball. Be like Malcolm Butler – know what play is coming and intercept it early. We will update this article should the draft regulations discussed be rejected or modified.