FALL RIVER — Three months after rescinding a local marijuana regulation following threats of a lawsuit and claims the restriction could be illegal, city health officials voted Wednesday on a list of guidelines to help police the city’s cannabis industry.
Entitled the “Regulation to Ensure the Sanitary and Safe Operation of Marijuana Establishments and the Sale of Adult-Use Marijuana and Cannabidiol,” the regulation covers a swath of new rules that Fall River businesses tied to the cannabis industry will have to follow.
Some of the highlights of the regulation, which will go into effect next month, include the banning of marijuana gifting, prohibiting the sale of hemp or CBD edible products to persons under age 21, and a prohibition of all self-service hemp or CBD edible stands.
The portion of the regulation that drew the threat of the lawsuit – and is still included in an amended section – is the restriction of selling so-called “marijuana accessories.” An early draft of the regulation, approved by the Board of Health in April, defined these accessories as “equipment, products, devices or materials of any kind that are intended or designed for use in ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing adult-use marijuana into the human body.”
The broad nature of that definition drew the attention of a group of Fall River convenience stores earlier this summer. The group claimed at the time that many items currently sold in their shop might be affected despite not being traditionally used in the consumption of marijuana.
The earlier draft also limited permitted sales of these accessories to dispensaries and adult-only tobacco stores.
New Bedford-based attorney Philip Beauregard, who represented the group of business owners opposing the regulation, challenged the Board of Health during its June meeting.
“You have before you a regulation that is faulty. It’s not going to stand if it’s challenged legally and it’s not a matter of carving it out and tailoring the definition. It’s a matter of taking this and saying ‘no,’” he said.
The regulation passed Wednesday does not restrict accessory sales to certain types of businesses, but it does prohibit sales to people under age 21.
Additionally, the regulation does not include a definition of what it views as a marijuana accessory. However, it does refer its readers to a set of state laws, which define accessories as “equipment, products, devices or materials of any kind that are intended or designed for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing cannabis or marijuana into the human body.”
To give local business owners a chance to sell off products they may soon no longer be able to sell, the board voted Wednesday to make the new regulation effective Oct. 11.