Recreational Cannabis Store Openings Delayed in Massachusetts

By | June 19, 2018

Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission, tasked last June by the legislature and governor to draft and implement the establishment of a retail cannabis industry approved by Bay State voters in 2016, publicly indicated for the first-time last week that their self-directed date to open non-medical cannabis retail outlets of July 1 will not be realized.

The CCC will not issue licenses to cultivate, process or sell cannabis by July 1, explaining that the Commission’s intent is to avoid a specific date for implementation of rushed, mistake-laden employee background checks, consumer chaos and confusion and product inventory problems that incurred in the six previous states that have created commercial markets for cannabis  (Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Nevada and California).

Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission director Steve Hoffman: “We’re going to do this right.”

At a meeting on June 15, the CCC acknowledged that nearly 1,100 applications for cannabis-related businesses had been received by the state since the application process officially opened on June 1. However, only 53 applications had been fully completed (most of the first 28 applicants are, unsurprisingly, retail medical cannabis companies already operating in Massachusetts). The next meeting is scheduled for June 19.

CCC director Steve Hoffman says the Commission wants to maximize efforts to have safe, compliant and uniformly regulated cannabis retail shops across the entire state and not rush to hit an arbitrary deadline. “We’re going to do this right,” he stated. “If that means we have few or no stores on July 1 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.”

To many observers of the state’s cannabis industry, the delay in issuing licenses is neither a surprise nor an unexpected burden as the CCC commissioners at their public hearings around the state for the last year have consistently reminded the public that the July 1 date was more inspirational than a necessity.

“Other states that rushed to hit an arbitrary deadline ended up with no inventory in some cases, with no licenses in place and no background checks and online inventory being done,” Hoffman added. “We’re not going to do that.”

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