Massachusetts To Allow 'Social Use' Pot Venues
WGBH in Boston reports that the state's Cannabis Control Commission has voted to allow licenses for some businesses to create social spaces for marijuana consumption. Licenses will be provided both to businesses like marijuana cafes where consumption is the primary purpose of the location, as well as to businesses that may wish to incorporate marijuana, such as yoga studios. The most obvious comparison to such businesses would, of course, be the relationship between bars and alcohol. Following this analogy, it does seem that allowing for social consumption outside of just residences should increase consumption of cannabis products. After all, sales of alcohol would be almost certain to decrease to at least some degree if bars did not exist.
The Commission cited a public policy justification for the rule, stating that the creation of legal spaces outside of one's home was a necessity for situations where marijuana users have non-consuming roommates, children, etc. The creation of such spaces is likely to culturally redefine marijuana, which will take on a much more public and social tone (similar to alcohol) in the public venue context. While private, residential consumption is sure to continue to make up the bulk of marijuana use, it does seem that public visibility is a strong first step toward broader cultural acceptance of cannabis.