Legalizing recreational marijuana could be coming to New England's most populous state this November. Pictured: The Massachusetts State Capital Building on Beacon Hill in Boston. (Chris Thomas, The Cannabist)

Prosecutors ask Massachusetts marijuana regulators to hold off on cannabis cafes, home delivery

BOSTON (AP) — District attorneys asked state marijuana regulators on Friday to hold off on licensing certain types of businesses, including so-called cannabis cafes and home delivery services, echoing a similar appeal by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.

In a letter to the five-member Cannabis Control Commission, the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association said draft regulations that would allow for such businesses exceed the scope of the state’s voter-approved recreational pot law and greatly increase “the risks to public safety.”

“We have security concerns for these businesses, their employees and their customers,” the prosecutors wrote. “Moreover, these businesses heighten our concerns relative to such issues as operating under the influence, increased marijuana access by persons under the age of 21, theft and diversion to the black market.”

The rules proposed by the commission and being reviewed at public hearings around Massachusetts would allow adults to use marijuana in licensed social settings, such as cannabis cafes. The regulations also envision home delivery services and the sale of marijuana at mixed-use facilities, which could include movie theaters or other venues.

The district attorneys from the state’s 14 counties said the commission should limit its initial licensing to retail stores or other specific businesses mentioned in the law and should decide later on whether to create more exotic license categories.

“Immediately allowing marijuana in restaurants, coffee shops, theaters, spas and yoga studios is irresponsible, ill-informed and dangerous,” their letter stated.

Baker also has implored the commission, which is independent from his office, to focus on getting retail stores up and running by a July 1 deadline in the law.

Related: Massachusetts gov urges marijuana regulators to go slow on social use

In a letter to regulators on Monday, Robert Ross, general counsel to the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, said the “aggressive timeline” in the law suggests the commission should focus on “core marijuana establishments” before trying to regulate other kinds of businesses.

A spokeswoman for the commission did not immediately return messages seeking comment on Friday. The panel has said it welcomes all feedback on the proposed regulations, which are expected to be finalized next month.

Commissioners have suggested that licensing cannabis cafes and mixed-used establishments would help reduce public consumption of marijuana while also creating more opportunities for minority entrepreneurs in the state’s new cannabis industry.