June 1st marks an important milestone for Massachusetts’ nascent adult-use cannabis industry. It’s the first day that the state’s Cannabis Control Commission can issue operating licenses to retail marijuana stores and related businesses. The law allows the state to make retail marijuana in Massachusetts available as soon as July 1st. But some observers are expecting a slow rollout.
Retail marijuana sales should still begin in July. However, it’s likely that only businesses already operating as registered medical cannabis dispensaries will be able to sell to other customers.
Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission Required To Wait For Local Approval To Issue Licenses
Although Friday marks the first day Massachusetts law permits state regulators to issue licenses allowing cannabis businesses to sell to adults, applicants will have to wait until at least Tuesday for any decisions, the AP reports. That’s because the Cannabis Control Commission doesn’t meet until then.
But the Commission also has to wait for local governments to approve applications before they can review them. Besides local approval, business operators must also pass background checks.
“We’re doing our work, but we’re also dependent upon getting feedback in terms of background checks,” Commission chair Steven Hoffman said after the group’s last weekly meeting, WBUR reports.
Massachusetts law gives local communities broad latitude to control whether and how retail shops and cultivation centers operate. Some municipalities have already opted to prohibit adult-use sales outright. Others have implemented restrictions on the industry.
Upon receipt of an application, local communities have 60 days to approve or reject the bid. At its meeting last Tuesday, the Commission had received a total of 38 applications. Cultivators represented the majority of applicants at 16, compared to just 10 retailers.
Retail Marijuana In Massachusetts Available As Soon As July 1st
In addition to the 38 applications ready for Commission review, 84 businesses have submitted at least part of the application. Another 834 prospective businesses have started the application process, according to sources.
Applying for a license is a time and resource-consuming process. Businesses must submit four parts. An application of intent, a background check, a management and operations profile and an application fee are all requirements. Further, approved applicants must pay a license fee before beginning retail operations.
Despite delays in the license approval process, however, Massachusetts should still be ready to launch its adult-use cannabis market on July 1st.
But expect products to be available only at medical cannabis dispensaries already in operation. For these businesses, it doesn’t matter when in June the Commission approves their applications. They’ll be ready for July 1st.