Pot Commissioners Hear from Cape Cod Residents

Cannabis Control Commissioners Jennifer Flanagan, left, and Kay Doyle listen to public comments on recreational marijuana regulations Thursday at Barnstable Town Hall.

HYANNIS – Dozens of Cape Codders gathered Thursday at Barnstable Town Hall to provide input for the future formation of recreational marijuana regulations.

Two members of the state’s newly appointed Cannabis Control Commission, Kay Doyle and Jennifer Flanagan, were on hand to listen to concerns and areas citizens would look to see addressed while developing regulations.

The commissioners are currently traveling around the state on a listening tour. The sessions began Wednesday in Holyoke.

“That will help us when we draft the regulation and get it ready for the draft regulation period,” Doyle said. “Once we post the draft regulations there will be an additional opportunity for a hearing so that everybody can comment.”

The goal of the commission is to promulgate safe and sensible regulations to provide access to marijuana.

The commissioners heard a wide range of comments from several citizens.

Tim McCarthy, with OuterCape Cannabis Connection in Truro, said there needs to be more of an economic emphasis on recreational marijuana which affects more than sales tax.

Barnstable resident and former Town Council member Richard Elrick discusses marijuana regulations before two Cannabis Control Commissioners.

McCarthy said the drug will lead to increased income tax revenue for the state from employment opportunities and an increase in property and business taxes.

He also recommended allowing outdoor cultivation, which he says could be as productive with much less impact to the environment and lower capital requirements.

“It’s the security of the grow operations which should be the focus of regulation and not the growing process itself,” McCarthy said.

Jesse Pitts, with the Cannabis Company of Cape Cod, told the commissioners that the state has a great opportunity to rewrite the standards for testing facilities.

“From my understanding and visiting Colorado and Oregon, the standards are pretty low and are not really standards at all,” Pitts said. “You can take your product to 10 different facilities and get 10 different results allowing cultivators to choose or cherry pick the result which best benefits them.”

Pitts said it also gives testing facilities a lot of power when it comes to handing out testing results.

“So I think it’s very important the state keeps a close eye on testing facilities and makes sure that strict regulations are in place to make sure that does not happen,” Pitts said.

Barnstable resident Richard Elrick, who has lived on Cape Cod for 45 years and served three terms on the Barnstable Town Council, said he voted for the legalization of recreational pot last November because it was not right to treat the product, which is less toxic and addictive than alcohol and tabacco, in a criminal fashion.

“You are regulating a product that has never been responsible for an overdose by anbody, anytime, anywhere,” Elrick said.

Elrick is also concerned with the spread of disinformation regarding the product and the industry.

He said selectmen in Harwich recently voted to endorse a ban of pot shops on information they were given from the town’s police chief.

According to Elrick, the chief said that in the 1970s marijuana THC was around 1 percent and is now 95 percent. Elrick said the actual figures were around 3.5 percent in the 70s and the highest THC level of marijuana which can be purchased commercially is in the high teens or low 20s.

“Even to the degree that that is raised as an issue, it’s sort of like saying it’s no different if you are going to have a glass or 151 rum or beer,” Elrick said.

He said he hopes the community can get good information.

“When people don’t get good information they can’t come to good conlusions,” Elrick said.

He also asked the commission to focus on public safety and to not make people have to travel too far to make purchases.

“If you are going to allow people to get into their car to take trips to P-town and Boston perhaps that can’t be promoting public safety,” Elrick said.

The Commissions will hold a listening session on Martha’s Vineyard Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. at West Tisbury Public Library.

Written comments may be sent to the commission by email atcannabiscommission@state.ma.usor by mail.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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