By Bob Katzen
The Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) has been working on drafting new regulations for the marijuana industry in the Bay State. They presented them at two public hearings last week. The most controversial regulation was the one that would require delivery drivers to wear a body camera any time they are outside their delivery vehicle and to record all transactions. The videos would be stored for at least 90 days and must be made available to the CCC or law enforcement if requested.
“The intrusion precipitated by a video recording of a person in their residence is a gross violation of their privacy,” said Will Luzier who was the campaign manager for the 2016 ballot question that legalized marijuana. “It is only one step away from surveillance through devices known as telescreens—in other words two-way televisions—that George Orwell envisioned in his dystopian novel ‘1984.’ The proposal to use body cameras for home delivery is contrary to the will of the voters and should be eliminated from the final regulations.”
Walpole Police Chief and member of the Cannabis Advisory Board John Carmichael testified in favor of the body camera requirement. He said that marijuana establishments have many security measures in place right now including video surveillance systems, limited access areas and identification procedures. And that should extend to delivery. “I’m advocating for the delivery person’s safety,” said Carmichael. “Unfortunately, there is crime, violent crime, that’s been committed here in Massachusetts in the illicit side of the market. People have been hurt. People have been killed. There is no reason for us to believe that won’t extend beyond that market and into the legal market.”
The commission will read all the written comments it has received and will meet in mid-September to debate any possible changes to their first draft of regulations and to vote on the final regulations.
In a lighter moment: “You can see I am getting old, but there is one thing that I have found improves with age and that is the pleasure of being able to say, ‘I told you so,’” said former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, now 79, in his appearance before the commission. Frank was referring to when as a state representative in 1972 he proposed a bill legalizing marijuana when just about every politician was against the legalization.
“We talk a lot about the divisions, the anger, generational problems,” said Frank. “I think an appropriate set of regulations that make it possible for adults responsibly to use marijuana for any purpose they choose, that that will go an important way towards healing one of the major divisions we have. The fundamental inconsistency between the way marijuana is regulated and the way alcohol is regulated, and cigarettes is one of the causes, I think, of the anger and distrust for the political system, so we have a chance here to kind of reconcile people in our society.”
He showed the 1972 bill to the commission and the spectators, mostly marijuana advocates, broke into applause. “I will allow applause this one time,” said CCC chair Hoffman as Frank returned to his seat. “I feel sorry for the next speaker.”