Massachusetts Pot Commissioners Reveal Whether They've Used The Drug

By Britni de la Cretaz 09/14/17

The commission is in charge of readying the state for retail sales of marijuana.

Steven Hoffman, Massachusetts marijuana czar
Steven Hoffman, Massachusetts marijuana czar Photo via YouTube

Ahead of their first meeting, three of the five members of the newly formed Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission revealed that they've tried marijuana. 

The state legalized recreational marijuana last year, and the commission—whose main goals are writing regulations and setting up an industry licensing system—met for the first time this past Tuesday.

The Enterprise reports that last week, chairman Steven Hoffman told reporters that he smoked a joint on a trip to Colorado last summer. Commissioners Britte McBride and Kay Doyle both said they'd used cannabis in college. Commissioners Jennifer Flanagan and Shaleen Title both declined to answer the question.

Four of the five commissioners voted against Question 4, with Title being the only one on the commission who voted to legalize a retail cannabis market. She also helped draft the ballot question. 

Steven Hoffman, the state's first "marijuana czar," will serve a five-year term as the commission's chair and earn $160,000 for his work, according to WBUR. At the time of his appointment, Hoffman released a statement that said, "I hope to guide this Commission thoughtfully and responsibly as we implement the legalization of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts. We have a lot to do, I am excited to get to work.”

He also spoke out about the failures of the drug war in a recent interview. “Addiction to, and misuse of, harder drugs than marijuana is a big problem,” Hoffman said. “But clearly what we’ve been doing as a country for the past 40 years hasn’t helped. I’m not sure I have a magic solution, but there’s a logic that, if you prohibit something that’s desired by people and is relatively harmless, all it does is create illicit trade.”

Hoffman says he only voted against the marijuana legalization measure because he thought the timeline was too accelerated. “I thought a slower and more studious approach would be better,” Hoffman said. 

The Commission has until March 15 to draft licensing regulations for marijuana businesses. It plans to start accepting applications in April. Retail sales are slated to begin July 1, 2018, which gives the Commission just under a year to get the marijuana industry off the ground in Massachusetts.

Hoffman told reporters last week that he was confident the tight deadlines would be met. “There are always impossible deadlines that people say can't be met, and what you do is you put your head down and figure it out," Hoffman said, according to WBUR. "Try to be creative and roll up your sleeves and get stuff done, at least in the private sector. And I have no reason to believe the government is going to be any different.”

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.