20 Massachusetts Weed Businesses in Running for Recreational Licenses

There are now 20 Massachusetts weed businesses in running for recreational licenses. Could there be 20 new dispensaries for adult-use?
20 Massachusetts Weed Businesses in Running for Recreational Licenses

Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) agreed to expedite the application process for the 20 Massachusetts weed businesses in running for recreational licenses. Details about the identities of the businesses that received prioritized review status were disclosed Tuesday night in a document available on the CCC website.

No conflicts of interest were reported in the spreadsheet. Several of the dispensaries are based in Boston, but other businesses are located in remote cities throughout the state, including Holliston, Fall River and Nantucket.

Massachusetts voters opted to legalize recreational marijuana statewide during the November 2016 election. But the implementation of the law has been delayed, as lawmakers continue to debate regulatory provisions such as taxation, which were included in the voter-approved initiative sponsored by the advocacy group, Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA).

The Future of Massachusetts’ Recreational Marijuana Market.

Recreational marijuana dispensaries are scheduled to open on July 1, 2018. But as local radio station WBUR reported, there’s uncertainty as to whether the state will be prepared to meet that deadline—in large part due to ongoing disputes over the regulatory policies governing Massachusetts’ recreational cannabis program.

“It is likely that the 17 existing medical marijuana establishments will be allowed to convert to retail sales,” WBUR reported in December 2017. “One problem facing the industry could be supply. Cultivators might not have enough time to grow an adequate amount of cannabis to meet demand. That could spell shortages and initially high prices soon after the doors open to retail sales.”

For business applicants that have met requirements for prioritized certification—including the 20 dispensaries recently approved—the commission is able to certify recreational licenses as early as June 1, 2018, according to the news site WickedLocal.

Steven Hoffman, chairman of the Cannabis Control Commission, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. In earlier interviews, however, he insisted that transparency and efficiency represented key components of the recreational marijuana business approval process.

Final Hit: 20 Massachusetts Weed Businesses in Running for Recreational Licenses

Though it remains to be seen why the 20 dispensaries selected for an expedited review process were given such an advantage, Massachusetts has also put in place a separate process for “economic empowerment” candidates. That designation refers to cannabis dispensaries and businesses “connected to communities with high rates of drug-related arrests,” according to Boston Magazine.

Research demonstrates that people of color in low-income communities are at far greater risk of being arrested for marijuana-related offenses such as possession, and so the state’s “economic empowerment” program is one of several launched around the U.S. that aim to assist communities that have been adversely affected by racially biased marijuana enforcement practices, empowering community members to enter the legal industry.

Even so, none of the 20 marijuana dispensaries granted prioritized approval processes qualify under the “economic empowerment” program, as WickedLocal reported. Hoffman argued that his commission’s goal is to facilitate licensing approvals responsibly. Businesses that failed to provide the required information in their applications would be given five business days to amend their applications.

“Our philosophy and intent is to help people get those applications completed,” Hoffman told WickedLocal. “We’re not rejecting applications because they’re not complete, we’re going back and saying, ‘you need to provide this information.'”

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