The issue of public marijuana consumption is becoming a bigger topic in places where weed is legal. More and more, weed-legal states are taking a look at laws prohibiting social or public consumption. And many places are beginning to consider the possibility of cannabis cafes or lounges. Massachusetts is one of these places. But, according to lawmakers, it will take years before public consumption spaces are established.
Public Weed Smoking in Massachusetts?
Under Massachusetts law, the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) has the authority to create a program for social cannabis consumption.
Such a program would set aside public places where it would be legal to consume marijuana. At this point, it seems most likely that these types of places would take the form of cannabis cafes or lounges. Additionally, some have even said it could also include movie theaters or other entertainment venues where customers would be allowed to consume weed.
Given the CCC’s ability to legalize and regulate social consumption sites, Massachusetts policymakers have started taking a closer look at the issue of public consumption.
But for now, authorities said no immediate action will be taken. That doesn’t necessarily mean that social consumption is getting a “no” from regulators. It just means that nothing is going to happen for the time being.
According to local news sources, regulators want to study the idea first. But this could be a challenge. That’s primarily because there aren’t a whole lot of social consumption spaces anywhere to study.
Denver reportedly has a “bring your own marijuana” program. This allows people to bring their own products to vape or eat in designated places. Additionally, Las Vegas is reportedly looking at a similar program. And some cities in California have allowed dispensaries to have “tasting rooms.”
At the local level, some Massachusetts regulators have pointed to the state’s “smoking bars” as a possible model to follow. These bars allow customers to buy tobacco products and smoke them inside the establishment. Some authorities think it would relatively easy to set up similar bars, but for cannabis.
Either way, state regulators said they will return to the question sometime in early 2019. And they don’t expect any concrete action for years after that.
Why Public Consumption Matters
As cannabis becomes legal in more and more places, the question of public consumption is moving toward center stage.
As the question has arisen more frequently, there appear to be a few commonly cited reasons why cannabis advocates see public consumption as an important feature of legalization.
For starters, public consumption will make weed fully accessible for everybody. Advocates have pointed out that making it legal to purchase weed, but then illegal to consume anywhere in public limits legal weed only to people with their own private homes where smoking is allowed.
Anyone without easy access to this type of private space can’t really use legal weed. That also applies to people who rent apartments or homes where landlords do not permit smoking.
Establishing public consumption sites would make it possible for everyone to consume legal weed, regardless of their private living arrangements.
Similarly, others have pointed out that it would be a huge new avenue within the industry. Opening up some sort of public consumption sites would allow business owners to open 420-friendly bars, cafes, lounges, theaters, and entertainment venues.