New Bedford officials discuss recreational cannabis home delivery

Anastasia E. Lennon

| Standard-Times

NEW BEDFORD — Within the next two years, New Bedford residents will likely have the ability to tap a smartphone app, order recreational cannabis products from a local store and have it delivered to their front door.

The New Bedford Special Committee on Cannabis Regulation and Host Community Agreements Review convened Thursday night for its first of many meetings to discuss this home delivery — an activity recently approved by state regulators.

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The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission’s new regulations for medical and recreational use of marijuana took effect early January, but regulators approved a plan to allow the delivery of recreational marijuana in 2019. Home delivery of medical marijuana in Massachusetts started in 2017.

The new regulations create two delivery license types: a “delivery operator” that can buy products wholesale from growers and manufacturers and sell them to their own customers, and a “courier” that can charge a fee to make deliveries from licensed retailers and dispensaries, said David Gerwatowski, the city council attorney.

Because the city already approved cannabis retailers in the city, Gerwatowski said it is unlikely city officials will be able to stop recreational marijuana delivery. Additionally, New Bedford will not have control over deliveries from other municipalities. If licensees list their town of operation as Fairhaven, they can deliver product to New Bedford or Fall River, he said.

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The CCC’s regulations set many requirements: two people must undertake deliveries so that the vehicle is never unattended, customers can only get one order per day and only to a residential address, delivery personnel must wear body cameras, the product cannot be visible to people outside the vehicle, and the vehicle must be commercial and owned by the licensee (no personal vehicles).

The delivery drivers will be licensed through the CCC after undergoing a background check and a two-stage application process.

The CCC also established an 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. delivery window, but Gerwatowski said it seems municipalities will have flexibility with that.

New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro encouraged city officials during the meeting to keep deliveries within daylight hours. He said these regulations will present a “daunting challenge” for police and expressed concern about attempted robberies on delivery drivers.

“My main concern is keeping it out of the wrong resident’s hands,” said Damon Chaplin, director of the city’s health department.

Councilor-at-large Naomi Carney and Councilor Brad Markey agreed home delivery was a bad idea.

“I think this is the dumbest idea that ever came out of Boston,” Carney said. “This should not be part of having a dispensary in the community.”

Despite Gerwatowski’s statements, Councilor-at-large Linda Morad requested the city solicitor ask the CCC if the city can restrict delivery, despite having approved recreational dispensaries.

New Bedford has two marijuana retailers in development: Tree Beard Inc. on Nauset Street and Ascend on Coggeshall Street, which is set to open later this year. The city has one operating medical marijuana cultivator, ARL Healthcare.

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Thursday night was the first of many meetings. The committee will continue to discuss the state regulations and determine what discretion the city has within the regulatory boundaries, ultimately developing a city ordinance for recreational marijuana home delivery.

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