Specifically, the dispensaries involved in the suit have a problem with the fact that only certain disenfranchised business owners will be able to deliver cannabis for the first three years, in order to try and make the industry more equitable.
The regulations were put in place by the Cannabis Control Commission last year, and they specify two types of cannabis licenses. One allows couriers to provide delivery for dispensaries, and the other allows companies to purchase product and keep it in a warehouse to then deliver it to customers.
While that created quite a diverse pool of options for those looking to dip their toes into delivery, existing dispensaries and other parties who are not disenfranchised but want to get into the industry are upset that they will not have a chance at the application process until at least three years down the road.
The applicants who qualify for the program fall under the umbrella of either the social equity program or the economic empowerment program.
The Controversy Behind The Lawsuit
Many, including social equity advocates, are excited about this move, because it means those who are disenfranchised won’t be pushed out of the process or the industry, as often happens, especially when it comes to legal cannabis.
However, not everyone is celebrating. The lawsuit, filed January 13, claims that not allowing cannabis retailers who already have a license to deliver violates existing law that claims cannabis retailers will be permitted to deliver their products.
According to a statute found in chapter 94G section 1 of the law, a cannabis retailer is “an entity licensed to purchase and deliver marijuana and marijuana products from marijuana establishments and to deliver, sell or otherwise transfer marijuana and marijuana products to marijuana establishments and to consumers.”
Additionally, those suing over the law claim that the commission didn’t have the right to enact new regulations because the commission that did so only had four members, as one had resigned.
“Simply, the CCC overstepped its authority and disregarded state law, radically upending the established rules that hundreds of small businesses and their host communities operated in accordance with since 2016,” the association said in a statement.
The association of businesses that are suing claimed that, while they support the smaller delivery license being only for marginalized people, or the idea that a larger number of the applications should go to equity applicants, they at least want the wholesale, warehousing option that could benefit existing dispensaries to be available to them now, even if in a limited capacity, not three years down the line.
“Today’s action goes beyond a disagreement about cannabis delivery—the CDA is dedicated to ensuring that the Commonwealth’s established laws are upheld and appropriately observed through fair procedures and adequate due process,” the association said.
Now, it remains to be seen if the law will be claimed as invalid or if it will be put into place. Either way, it looks like cannabis delivery could be further delayed in Massachusetts, despite the fact that cannabis applications are already pouring in, both from social equity applicants and those who don’t apply under current conditions.