Massachusetts Slow to License Pot Shops, Could Delay Recreational Sales Start

Massachusetts Slow to License Pot Shops, Could Delay Recreational Sales Start

by Zach Harris | NEWS |

Two weeks out from opening New England’s first adult-use weed market, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission has yet to grant even one canna-business license.

East Coast cannabis users booking bus tickets to Boston for July 1st's expected recreational weed sales start may want to rethink their timing. After more than a year and a half of waiting, and just two weeks from the expected kickoff date, Bay State regulators have yet to license a single marijuana business.

According to reports from the Boston Globe and WBUR Public Radio, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission met on Thursday but failed to issue any final cultivation, sales, or distribution permits, instead announcing that next month's long-awaited retail opening could be once again delayed — or, at best, debuted with a lackluster number of working dispensaries with limited product selection.

''We are going to do this right,'' Steven Hoffman, the Commission chairman, told reporters after Thursday's meeting. "If that means we have few or no stores on July 1st and it takes a few more weeks, I hope and expect that everybody in the state believes that's the right thing to do. We certainly believe that's the right thing to do."

Massachusetts regulators have been able to award licenses since June 1st, and have received a total of 53 completed applications, including 18 cultivation bids, 17 hopeful dispensaries, 12 manufacturing bids, two micro-business applications, and one transportation application. Of those 53 applications, 36 finalized inquires come from previously-licensed medical marijuana businesses, which would presumably have a leg up in opening their doors to the expected hordes of East Coast customers.

For now, though, Hoffman and his fellow regulators are still waiting for applicants to complete third-party background checks and receive local municipal approvals before they sing off on any recreational canna-businesses. After the latest commission meeting, Hoffman made it clear to reporters that the July 1st sales start date was an "arbitrary deadline" and not a state mandated requirement.

"Other states that rushed to hit an arbitrary deadline ended up with no inventory in some cases, ended up with no licenses in place, no background checks being done, no online inventory being done. We are not going to do that," Hoffman said.

Massachusetts residents passed legalization legislation in 2016, but have since been forced to continue purchasing weed from black market sellers as lawmakers and state officials repeatedly debated regulations and postponed the adult-use industry.

The Bay State Cannabis Control Commission will meet again on Tuesday, June 19th, and could award the state's first recreational cannabis business license at that time.

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Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.


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