Massachusetts' slow trek towards legal adult-use cannabis sales has passed yet another landmark, as the state's first recreational dispensary applications were turned into Bay State regulators today, April 2nd.
According to a series of concurrent reports out of New England, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission will encounter a first round of "priority certification" applications today, including retail pot shop proposals from the state's 22 existing medical dispensary operators and "economic empowerment" businesses.
To qualify as an economic empowerment applicant, prospective ganjapreneurs must demonstrate a business plan focused on empowering people or areas that have been significantly affected by cannabis prohibition and policing.
Outside of the priority guidelines, the Bay State Cannabis Control Commission will start accepting applications for vertically integrated microbusinesses, cultivators and craft cooperatives, and testing labs in a month, on May 1st. Further, regulators will welcome applications for non-priority retail pot shops, extract and edible manufacturers, and transportation businesses on June 1st.
Massachusetts voters approved adult-use cannabis legalization in November 2016, but after months of legislative debate and disagreements over regulations, the implementation of commercial cannabis reform has been delayed since. Now, as applications begin rolling in, state regulators are confident that both the bureaucracy and budtenders will be ready for the proposed July 1st retail sales start date.
"I do anticipate a significant number of applications. There will be a great deal of interest in opening facilities in Massachusetts," Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for the legalization advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project, told the Boston Herald. "For one thing, the states in New England are small. There will be customers coming from other states because in Massachusetts it's tough to be 20 to 30 miles from a state line. You will see Massachusetts leading in all of the New England states in going toward a safer system of legal sales."
If confirmed by the Cannabis Control Commission, priority certified applicants will be able to submit paperwork for a commercial cannabis sales license on April 16th. Like the rest of the state's prospective ganjapreneurs, though, priority pot shops will still have to wait until July 1st to make their first official adult-use sales.
Follow Zach Harris on Twitter