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Over 200 Applicants Move to Next Phase of Recreational Marijuana Licensing in Massachusetts


The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission has awarded 205 companies priority status when it comes to moving to the next phase of the recreational marijuana licensing process. There were 320 applicants in total, meaning 115 were denied for applications being turned in late or for failing to meet some other requirement.

Now these companies have to complete various “packets”, as well as pass a background check and get written approval from the local jurisdiction they plan on operating in. Recreational retail sales are supposed to start in Massachusetts on July 1st, so time is running short.

“We have put restrictions in terms of how much has to be kept for medical use, but that’s the process we’re working … with DPH right now to allow that transfer,” said Cannabis Control Commission Chairman Steven Hoffman when he was asked about supply for July. “We are going to give guidance over the next week or two for the entirety of our seed-to-sale system, including how that initial inventory gets set up. And so, we’re just waiting to have everything worked out with the Department of Public Health.”

Some of readers may remember that the original ballot measure that MA voters approved in 2016 called for sales to begin on January 1st of this year – like California – but that a handful of legislators delayed that target date by 6 months. Other changes were debated and implemented, but in the end, the MA legislature didn’t do as much damage to the original law as they could have.

Later in the press conference that followed the meeting, Chairman Hoffman was asked about how the commission will measure success in the coming months. “…we’re working on the set of metrics that we’re going to hold ourselves accountable to, [that] we’re going to publish, and we’re going to let people make their own judgments in terms of our success,” he said.

“Our view is that we want to hit our deadlines, which we have done thus far. We want to run a fair and effective and thorough licensing process. We want to make sure that anybody that’s set up for business is somebody that we are comfortable will be successful and run a professional business.”

There is still a long way to go to recreational sales in Massachusetts, and there’s no reason to think that officials there will have an easier time than officials in other states have had. But, for the sake of consumers in MA, let’s hope they have at least learned some valuable lessons from what others have gone through.