As of June 1st, Massachusetts is finally accepting cannabis business applications. And for the past week, requests for dispensary and grow-op licenses have been pouring in. As of today, over 1000 marijuana business applications have been filed, and many more will follow.
Over 1000 Applications Submitted In 5 Days
Businesses have waited almost two years since marijuana legalization for this moment. Massachusetts officials have been working on legalization laws and infrastructure since voters came out in support of legal weed in 2016.
The Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) finally opened its doors to business applications on June 1st, and there is no end in sight. In the five days following, they’ve received 1,002 applications according to a presentation given by the CCC.
However, the commission told Green Rush Daily that they’re reviewing only 51 of these applications so far. Out of this group, 18 have applied for cultivator licenses, 15 for retail, 3 for research, 12 for product manufacturing, 2 for microbusinesses, and 1 for a transporter to a preexisting marijuana business establishment.
Over 800 of the license applications are missing key elements. A total of 108 are pending until further review.
Applicants Are Unevenly Distributed Across The State
Out of the 51 completed applications, 16 are located in Worcester, and only 2 are located in Suffolk County, which includes Boston, Chelsea, Winthrop and Revere.
There are a mere 5 applicants so far for Middlesex County, which is the most populous county in New England and includes Cambridge and Somerville. There are no applicants yet for Cape Cod or Nantucket, and only one for Berkshire County in Western Mass.
Massachusetts Won’t Issue Licenses For Some Time
The clock is ticking for the Cannabis Control Commission. Massachusetts legalization laws allow cities and counties to set individual marijuana policies. That means that only businesses have to follow local and state laws to qualify for a license.
And local marijuana laws are increasingly restrictive. Most of Massachusetts’ municipalities have passed bans on retail marijuana. Others have limiting zoning laws or high rents, so opening a grow or a dispensary is highly competitive, expensive and virtually impossible.
We see a similar phenomenon with California’s ‘pot deserts’. These are large swathes of land where local bans on marijuana and lower populations translate to a lack of accessibility. California is hoping to change this with weed delivery, which Massachusetts has outlawed.
Before the CCC can deal with gaps in access, they have to sort through local laws. This means at least a week until they start even considering the thousands of requests piling up. But Cannabis Control Commission Chair Steve Hoffman isn’t worried about imbalances yet.
He explained to WBUR, “What it looks like at this early stage in the process I suspect has very little to do with what it ultimately will look like, and so I’d urge not to rush to judgment on anything.”