CommCan Sales on “Edibles” described as chocolate bars and gummies

Recently, I came across information that prompted me to ask questions. In the end, I still feel that I’m left with more questions than clear answers. I welcome Town Officials and CommCan to clarify the situation. But with no response to some of my questions, I’m sharing what I know and the questions I still have.

It appears that CommCan may be violating a condition of its Special Permit. It also appears that there is a gap in oversight of that condition.

The condition I’m referring to is #6:

Edible products shall take the appearance of nondescript, medicinal forms as allowable by applicable state laws and shall not resemble the appearance of candy-like products

This fall, the medical marijauana dispensary CommCan held its ribbon cutting ceremony in Southborough. (You can read about that in Southborough Wicked Local.)

Planning to run a post about the ribbon cutting, I checked out the dispensary’s website for publicity photos. I was surprised to discover posts marketing the sales of “chocolate bars” and “gummies”. (Click on thumbnails below for example Facebook posts and a recent menu cropped from the website.)

I was surprised since I thought that candy versions of edibles were disallowed at the dispensary.

In March 2016, I wrote that the ZBA’s special permit required edibles to be in nondescript medical form. If the situation changed, I wanted to update readers. I followed up with CommCan and the Town to try to understand – did I misunderstand something, or did I miss something that happened later? 

Do the gummies and bars have a non-candy-like “appearance”? Was the condition determined unenforcable? Is there some other factor I’m not considering?

I didn’t get clear answers. Instead, I found that no one was taking responsibility for enforcing the condition. 

Back in 2016, parents upset about the dispensary opening within 1,000 feet of a school (and closer to some neighborhoods) detailed some of their worries to the ZBA. One was about the edible forms of marijauna that could look like candy. There was talk about children accidentally getting ahold of edibles or nefarious customers selling or giving “candy” to unsuspecting children.

ZBA member Paul Drepanos heard the concerns and suggested a condition that the edibles not look like treats. The board appeared to have the impression that candy wouldn’t be allowed under state law. But there were still concerns about how decadent brownies might look (e.g., with caramel drizzles).

The promise that packaging would be nondescript wasn’t enough for Drepanos. He was responding to worries about how the product would look once packages were opened. Board members agreed to include the nondescript condition as part of the permit. 

CommCan hasn’t posted images of the edibles. So I thought, maybe it does meet the criteria – and its unattractive appearance is why there aren’t pictures.

When I raised the question to CommCan’s CEO Marc Rosenfeld, he responded:

since edible products are food it is not possible to make food not look like food.

He went on to state that edibles are important. (At past hearings, arguments were made that some of the people who need marijuana need/want to eat it instead of smoking it, and that it needs to be tempting given issues with appetite and nausea.) He assured that edibles packaging meets “strict” state requirements:

(opaque packaging, nothing resembling commercially available products, no cartoon-like imagery, etc…)

I did point out that the condition was about unwrapped candy and included a link go the video of the discussion*. Rosenfeld responded that he hadn’t watched the video. (Note, he was in attendance to witness to the conversation that night.) But he didn’t clearly answer my other questions.

That included – was the condition deemed unenforcable “by applicable state laws”. If so had the ZBA or another Town Official been informed of that decision? I haven’t gotten any answers on that from CommCan or the Town officials I reached out to.

I was also unable to determine who is responsible for ensuring that CommCan complies with the permit or what the process is for that.

When I followed up with the Building Commissioner Mark Robidoux, he said that entering the premises to inspect their edibles wouldn’t be in his authority. He presumed that the Southborough Police Department would be responsible under condition 1:

Subject to review and approval by the Police Chief of the proposed safety plan, with regularly scheduled updates with the Police Department thereafter

When I followed up with Police Chief Kenneth Paulhus, he responded that the dispensary was compliant with state regulations. He verified that the packaging was nondescript as required by the state. But he said that it wasn’t the SPD’s place to enforce ZBA conditions.

On Friday, I again emailed the ZBA Chair and Town Administrator, plus the Chair of the Board of Selectmen. I informed them of that discrepancy as well as my other still unanswered questions. I haven’t heard back. (Although, TA Mark Purple did respond to my first inquiry to provide the decision and host agreement.)*

I’m hoping these issues will be addressed at a future public meeting.

*Here is the ZBA’s decision, the March 24, 2016 hearing Minutes, the final wording approved by board via SAM video, and the preceding discussion between members, leading up to that decision. That decision was hinged on CommCan reaching a Host Agreement with the Town. Here is the final version. By my amateur reading the Host Agreement doesn’t reaffirm special permit condition, but it also doesn’t seem to undermine it.

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5 years ago

Their social media profiles both clearly show posted images of gummies and cookies throughout.

5 years ago


Please stop the handwringing & hysteria!


One cannot even ENTER the store without first proving one possesses a valid medical prescription for the use of marijuana!

So, please tell the public how the kiddies are going to get their hot little hands on so-called edibles? You are TROLLING – the very thing you have recently accused others of doing.

Before you put something like this online, have you determined the web site you’re looking at is specifically for the store in Southborough – and not a generic CommCan web site?

I’m guessing you’re upset because you don’t possess a prescription and therefor cannot enter the CommCan store to obtain its products in order to calm yourself.

PLEASE – stop the hysteria and sensationalism!

There surely are more pressing issues with this town – this in NOT one of them.

Move on.

Concerned Voter
5 years ago

This issue is important to many, although not you apparently. Beth has the right to ask these legitimate business and permitting questions. It isn’t “hysteria and sensationalism” — these are legitimate and key follow up questions. As for enforcement, that should clearly be transparent and a matter of public record. Photos taken and forms filed on the Town’s website for the public to inspect.

5 years ago

I checked the CommCan web site and there are NO PHOTOS of edibles – only text. Oh wait – children can read, so they’ll be tempted to force their way into the store for some THC gummies…

Your ‘article’ mentions a Facebook page. How does this Facebook page tie to the Southborough CommCan store? It probably doesn’t. So, you’re creating an issue where
one does not exist.

Concerned Voter
5 years ago

All good questions Beth. The best way to get answers is probably to get on the next Board of Selectmen agenda and spearhead that discussion. You have assembled good information. Clearly there are gaps here. Thanks for staying on top of this important issue, for the sake of both parents and school age children.

Former Resident
5 years ago

I will not ever try to claim to know everything about this topic, nor specifically about the Southborough location and their business practices (given that I now don’t live in town, but grew up there). That being said, I have watched along through this site and been given the hard facts and figures about it, so kudos to you, Beth. But, this post specifically, I am disappointed about.

While this information is relevant and timely in town, it’s also an opinion piece and one full of emotion and feelings, as you’ve noted. I have continually watched this site for years, given that I still am even though I’m not a resident, and this isn’t the type of story that should appear on this site…especially from the author and resident that runs it. Again, this is a “hot topic” if you will, all over the country, but I would hope that this website continues to provide the facts, not the opinions nor the feelings. That should hold true to any stories coming out of the town.

North Sider
5 years ago

With all due respect, Beth owns and operates this site so she can post what she pleases with any emotion (or lack there of) that she wants.

That said, I agree with whomever pointed out the fact that kids can’t even enter a dispensary. Unlike liquor stores, which they can enter.

Bottom line is that parents/adults need to be as responsible with their cannabis products as they do with their other legal substances such as alcohol.

Jessica Devine
5 years ago
Reply to  North Sider

Just a point of clarification about this statement from Former Resident:

“…I would hope that this website continues to provide the facts, not the opinions nor the feelings. That should hold true to any stories coming out of the town.” is not a town blog and this story is not “coming out of the town” (if by that phrasing, Former Resident meant it was news coming from the entity of the Town of Southborough). This is Beth’s own blog and she can run it how she likes. There is no official town blog — though it would be nice if there was one, someday!

Concerned Voter
5 years ago

Sorry “Former Resident,” but I could not disagree more. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Beth’s piece — it is a public service and public awareness article. (Plus it’s her blog!) You grossly mischaracterize the article. You call it “opinion” and “full of emotion.”

These are dismissive terms meant to somehow reduce the importance of the content. The piece is absolutely not full of emotion nor opinion. Since when is asking legitimate business questions about permitting and enforcement equate to “emotion?”

While I do not always agree with Beth, I mostly do and very much so when it comes to raising public awareness. She provides a valuable service to the town in terms of public awareness, especially on matters that may lack transparency. Do you have a problem with raising legitimate permitting and enforcement matters and having an article that is a public awareness alert? Beth and this blog, and namely this article, does all of that and more. This is invaluable to the public and the taxpayers who foot the bill.

Beth, just a suggestion but do try to get this topic on the BOS agenda. These are all matters of legitimate importance to the public at large and the taxpayers of this town. You have assembled very good information, and the outcome should be a reporting to the public that has (of course, nothing to do with you personally as this is a public matter) everything to do with good, healthy, full discussion and functioning and transparent local government. Thank you for your service to this town.

5 years ago

Give Beth some respect, she does this site for nothing , and without her hard work I for one wouldn’t know what is going on in town

Louise Barron
5 years ago

Thanks Beth for the info. “Handwringing” blogger, pipe down. Have you had a kid hooked on drugs. Many start with pot. I know many of them. This is not hysteria. It is the environment we live in. Ever more careful, and watchful of what trouble our kids are getting into. It’s a scary time. It’s also our new reality.

4 years ago
Reply to  Louise Barron

Kids are more likely to get hooked on drugs because of prescription meds, which don’t look like food by the way. Pot helps more people get off of hard drugs than you seem to be aware of. If we could put more effort into studying marijauna maybe the public would get more educated about it and help end the stigma and fear surrounding it. I agree it is a scary time, heroin addiction is an epidemic, but claiming it is because of pot proves how uneducated you actually are on the topic.

Marnie Hoolahan
4 years ago
Reply to  Steve

Steve, after a recent visit to PUBMED (a public database on the National Institute of Health and US National Library of Medicine), one can find numerous population based prospective studies that have reported that there is a link to adolescent use of marijuana greatly increases the use of cocaine and other illicit drugs in adulthood.

One very large study using longitudinal data over 14 years, reported “However, our findings showed that over a relatively longer period of time (from adolescence to adulthood), early use of marijuana and other illegal drugs rather than tobacco or alcohol greatly increases the likelihood of using cocaine and other illegal drugs. A co-twin study in Australia found early cannabis use as a consistent predictor for other psychoactive substance use and in development of drug dependence (Lynskey et al., 2003).” The reference is here:

There is a large and growing body of scientifically designed evidence suggesting that marijuana is in a gateway drug.

Concern of the parents in this community is that when packaged to look like candy or treats, kids will try it. We do not want to limit availability to medical marijuana for those who are medically qualified. We do believe that restricting the appeal of packaging will reduce the probability of “kids” trying it. If kids do not have access to try it, our hopes, with parent and societal education, can deter them from experimenting and limit those who would ultimately move on to something more concerning, like opioids.

Just for the record, the FDA did approve the first “cannabis containing” product, Epidiolex, in June 2018, for the treatment of seizures in two rare diseases. So yes, marijuana, is also available in “pill” form. Also, the NIH (National Institute of Health) has started to release grant funding for cannabis related scientific discovery. So there is quite a lot of work happening in the field. I do believe that a controlled, qualified way to modulate potency would be a welcome measure as this country expands our use of marijuana.

4 years ago

“…evidence suggesting that…”

Let us try to remember that correlation is not causation.

Let us also try to remember that for every ‘scientific’ study conducted that leads to conclusion X, there will also be some other ‘scientific’ study conducted that refutes the results of X and reports Y.

I’m sure that if one looked hard enough, one could find instances of young people who have used cocaine and did not use marijuana previously. Does that prove marijuana is not a gateway drug? No.

Comments such as: ‘pro-stoner’ and ‘weed brigade’ do little to foster the communications so desired by the poster below. Evidently the only people allowed to communicate are those who hold opinions identical to his.

As for posting under some pseudonym, any poster is entitled to their confidentiality. With a post such as yours, it sounds as though some people would have reason to be concerned about meeting you. Better for them they remain anonymous – better for you too, so you don’t get yourself into real trouble.

‘overwhelmingly a gateway drug’? Again, correlation is not causation. You are making the same mistake. Take a step back and ask yourself what it is about American society that people feel compelled to ingest these substances. Do other cultures around the world suffer from the same substance issues?

Some people should not use marijuana. Their systems cannot handle it. Not every body has the same biochemistry and/or physiology. The same is true for alcohol. Both of these substances are legal in this state. I’m certain there are people who feel alcohol should not be sold.

Matthew Brownell
4 years ago

Dear “Is_There_A_Solution”:

Have you ever taken a long look at a daily smoker of weed?

Your commentary only reaffirms the underpinnings of a classic Liberal: access to everything, and responsibility for nothing.

Suggest you come down from the trees and the Ivory Towers, and engage in discussions with people who are left picking up the pieces of your ruinous policies, ersatz “whatever-floats-your-boat” precepts, and utter abandonment of common sense.

There is a reason why older generations commonly referred to marijuana as “dope”, and you needn’t walk far to find it.

And, please, stop with the red herring, straw dog arguments that juxtapose alcohol with marijuana. As the son of two deceased , alcoholic parents, I don’t need the lectures or the lame attempts of moral equivalency.

Putting a smiley face on today’s marijuana products is both irresponsible and imbecilic.

Kelly Roney
4 years ago

Of course, alcohol is the most pertinent model for regulation of marijuana, even if not everyone wants to hear it.

Alcohol is illegal. No, wait, we tried that, and Prohibition birthed organized crime in America. We gave up on suppressing alcohol, but we got to keep the mob. Marijuana is illegal federally. We’ve tried prohibition for decades, with no success, just more battles. Also, more organized criminals…

Alcohol is addictive to the point of physical dependency. Marijuana isn’t, but it feels good and anything that feels good can lead to psychological dependency.

Alcohol is present at just about every party or venue you can imagine. Marijuana is not, and under current law won’t be.

Alcohol is dangerously disinhibiting, witness 20,000 dead on the roads annually. Marijuana makes people drive too slowly. (That’s not without its dangers, but they aren’t the same.)

Alcohol has a strong association with violence, notably domestic violence. Marijuana simply doesn’t. (Selling marijuana illegally does, but that’s another argument for legal regulation.)

Alcohol as a substance to be ingested is far more deadly than marijuana. Who ever died of marijuana poisoning? Yet we always hear about tragedies in which young people drink themselves to death, both acutely and chronically. I knew a 30-year-old who drank so much in the space of six months that his organs shut down.

Alcohol, despite some of my family keeping it for medicinal purposes, has little medical applicability – maybe soothing a teething baby. Marijuana clearly has medical uses – palliation of nausea from chemo is one. It was a ridiculously political move to put it onto Schedule 1. See John Ehrlichmann and his boss, Richard Nixon.

We tolerate and regulate alcohol. The explicit model of the marijuana legalization the voters passed is to tolerate and regulate marijuana in a similar way. This seems pretty reasonable to me.

Prohibitionists had their chance for decades. Let’s try something that hasn’t failed already.

(BTW, marijuana is not a liberal cause. It spans social classes and ideologies. I know conservatives who favor legalization. I know liberals who are opposed.)

Matthew Brownell
4 years ago
Reply to  Steve

“Steve” . . .

So convinced you are of your pro-stoner agenda, that you fail to post under your real name. But I guess that’s another discussion, for another time-

Over the course of 15 years, this writer’s mother was the Director of several substance abuse inpatient rehab facilities in Syracuse, NY. Tens of thousands of patient intake forms showed that marijuana is overwhelmingly a gateway drug to cocaine, heroin, and other substances that corrode, endanger, undermine , and destroy people, friends and families.

I believe Massachusetts residents are entitled to better, more insightful , fact-based communications than the activist pablum- puke dispensed by the Weed Brigade.

Safdar Medina
4 years ago
Reply to  Steve

I work daily, treating teens with addiction, including teens suffering from opioid addiction. Their first drug of choice, with some starting as young as 11, was marijuana. It is not safe and is a gateway drug. Marijuana does not help them with opioid addiction. There are many who remain addicted to marijuana, developing worsening depression, anxiety, and psychosis. Yes, prescription opiates are prescribed in appropriately and we need even tighter regulations than we have now, but they are not the only cause. We can’t have our teens thinking that marijuana is safe. We now have the electronic vapor industry taking part in marijuana products, allowing the use of high potency oils (90%THC).

5 years ago

I don’t know much about ComCan, But I know cbd and cannabinol, is down right expensive. A chocolate bar for $30.00. I think a gummy would also be prohibitely

5 years ago
Reply to  Lily

I also read gummies are very expensive.just the sheer cost of Medical Marijuana, should scare kids away. Me, too.

SB Resident
5 years ago
Reply to  Lily

You’re missing the point. The worry over edibles looking like candy is from kids mistaking edibles already in the home as candy. Nosey kid finds hidden candy or Jell-O and thinks daddy has hidden it because it’s candy.

There are millions of ways to package the product, there is no reason that making it look like candy needs to be one of them. If medicinal marijuana is really about medicine, it should be a pill like every other medicine.

5 years ago


The point is that Beth has issue with some Facebook web page that depicted gummies, etc. and felt is was in violation of some agreement CommCan made with the town before they were allowed to set up their business.

The point was about photographs available on the internet – not whether people would have these THC edibles in their homes. That’s strictly THEIR business.

As for THC edibles looking like candy, ask yourself how you would want them to look if you were interested in buying and consuming them. Would it be enjoyable to you if such products were designed to look like something inedible – solely in order to be unappealing to children? This is beyond foolish!

Of course a manufacturer is going to create a product to have visual appeal. The product is marketed and sold exclusively to adults – with valid prescriptions.

Since she (Beth) couldn’t get answers that were satisfactory to her from civilian town officials and the local police, she decided to turn the issue over to the ‘general public’. That ‘general public’ had, for the most part, gotten over the whole CommCan issue.

Thanks to the article, like pouring gasoline on the embers of a dying fire, the extremists have emerged form the woodwork (again!).

As noted above – hysteria and handwringing.

There’s no need for it.

The CommCan store is open. I have yet to witness children milling about its entrance.


North Sider
5 years ago

Yes, what about Park Central? I’m far more worried about the kids walking on Flagg to get to school, who will be endangered by the potential additional hundreds of cars.

4 years ago
Reply to  North Sider

Speaking to a colleague the other day I thought of a potential solution to the Flagg Rd. increased traffic issue – has nobody mentioned the possibility of:

1. widening the street?

2. adding curbs?

3. adding sidewalks?

Any and all of the above would serve to provide safer pedestrian use of this street. As it currently stands, with a limited amount of ‘local’ traffic, it is very risky for pedestrians to walk along the side of the roadway. It would seem the installation of curbs & sidewalks would significantly increase safety even under today’s use of the street.

While I’m sure no resident of Flagg wants to see more vehicular traffic, that seems to be ‘business as usual’ for the town. There are many streets that receive heavy usage as a result of routes 30 and 9 running through the town. Drivers seem to always be looking for some way to cut through or around stalled traffic on the overloaded primary roadways.

One solution might be to make the residential streets one-way flowing only towards route 9 – at least for the last block. Another approach could be to erect “DO NOT ENTER between certain hours” signage for the affected local ‘cut-through’ streets.

4 years ago
Reply to  Beth Melo

Clearly, the comment was in Reply to the post by North Sider

Frank Crowell
4 years ago

Posted without comment.

My apologies if this has already been posted.

Kelly Roney
4 years ago
Reply to  Frank Crowell

Interesting, thanks.

We definitely need a standard of impairment for THC. This poses some problems that alcohol doesn’t pose. Alcohol metabolizes fairly quickly. I used an on-line blood alcohol calculator once and found out that I could have a drink per hour forever and still have a modest blood alcohol (0.02% if I recall correctly). If I’d lose 20 pounds, that might change, of course. 0.02% is not prima facie impaired, but it’s not as sharp as zero BAC, which is why ad campaigns say “don’t drink and drive,” while most of us are willing to risk a glass of wine with dinner even when out by car.

Marijuana is detectable for a month after consumption. I don’t know whether that’s THC or something else. Back in college, I recall hearing that marijuana didn’t leave a hangover, but that wasn’t my experience. One reason I preferred alcohol was that I could drink enough water to forestall a hangover. It helped to be young, too!

I don’t know enough about why there are after-effects. I’m pretty sure that a drinking hangover is not the result of alcohol remaining in the bloodstream, rather it’s due to slightly toxic alcohol metabolites and dehydration. I don’t know the corresponding fact about marijuana; does THC continue to circulate, which presumably would be at least a little impairing, or is the detectability of marijuana due to THC’s metabolic byproducts?

This sort of knowledge would be more widespread if marijuana were not a Schedule 1 drug (ridiculously so) and therefore easier to study scientifically.

A test and a standard are not solely a problem for recreational drugs. Think about Ambien and other sleep aids, tranquilizers, anti-seizure medications, and even anti-histamines such as Benadryl. For those, we have field sobriety tests.

4 years ago

There is already a problem with ‘medicated’ people driving on the highways. These are people taking prescription medications and having side effects that impair their ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.

I believe law enforcement does not routinely test people involved in auto collisions to see what meds are in their system and determine whether they’d had an effect on that person’s ability to safely operate machinery.

The researchers associated with the link posted above should take a look at auto fatalities in the 60s and 70s, when marijuana usage was prevalent, for a useful comparison. As another poster noted, people high on marijuana tend to drive more slowly – not aggressively.

While THC may have been in operator’s systems, it doesn’t tell us anything about the underlying causes of the reported collisions. It may simply be coincidental.

As the person above posted, if they had one drink and then were involved in a collision, that could be construed as ‘alcohol related’, since there was alcohol present in the blood. While the level was far below the legal limit, some people would construe the data to satisfy their own agenda.

40,000 people die annually from automobile crashes in the US in recent years. approximately 17,000 die annually from being shot with guns. Which gets all the press?

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