Massachusetts Cannabis Business Licenses
WHAT IS MASSACHUSETTS' CURRENT CANNABIS MARKET STATUS?
Massachusetts is home to both a medical and recreational cannabis market. In 2016, voters approved a ballot initiative that legalized cannabis for adult use, while also eliminating penalties for possession of small amounts of cannabis and cultivation of a small number of plants. On November 20, 2018 the first two recreational dispensaries opened their doors for the sale of cannabis to adults 21 and older. Within the first week of operations, between the two stores, $2, 217,621 was sold to recreational users. The industry has continued to show strength within the state and has recorded nearly $400 million in sales in its first full year of operation with an average of $46 million per month. Fiscal year 2020 will have skewed sales numbers due to the two month closure of all recreational operations implemented by Governor Baker as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stores are to remain closed until May 25th when they are permitted to open for curbside delivery. As of March 2020, the state has 42 recreational dispensaries, a number that is expected to increase substantially. With 404 pending submitted applications and 227 licenses awarded, 137 of which are retailers, the state anticipates continual, consistent dispensary growth.
WHAT ARE MASSACHUSETTS' CANNABIS LAWS?
In November 2012, Massachusetts voters approved the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative permitting medical cannabis for patients who possess a state issued registration card after receiving a recommendation from a physician. The law allows for state licensed and non-profit dispensaries to provide up to ten ounces every two months to patients as stated in the Regulations.
In November 2016, the voters of Massachusetts passed a ballot initiative legalizing recreational cannabis. Once dispensaries opened, adults 21 and older were able to purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis and grow up to six plants within the privacy of their homes with a maximum limit of 12 plants per household for residences with more than one adult living in the home. Once harvested, the household can hold up to ten ounces. Under the initiative, cultivators have the opportunity to apply for a variety of licenses broken down in a tier system based on the amount of plants grown. Full text of both medical and recreational regulations can be found here.
Medical and recreational Massachusetts cannabis businesses must negotiate a Community Host Agreement with the city or town in which the facility operates. Cities and towns are allowed to implement a community impact fee of up to 3% of the businesses’ annual revenue.
WHAT IS MASSACHUSETTS' CANNABIS LICENSING TIMELINE & CANNABIS APPLICATION PROCESS?
The Massachusetts application process is available for the following license types: Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC), Marijuana Cultivator (Indoor and Outdoor), Craft Marijuana Cooperative, Marijuana Product Manufacturer, Marijuana Retailer, Existing Licensee Transporter, Third Party Transporter, Marijuana Research Facility, Independent Testing Laboratory (ITL), Standards Testing Laboratory, Microbusiness, Delivery-Only Licenses, and Social Consumption Establishments.
Each license type comes with an associated application. Annual licensing fees ranging from $200 to $50,000 are waived for Economic Empowerment applicants and Social Equity Program Participants. The Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) provides an in-depth breakdown of the fees and additional application resources on the Application Guidance document.
Hopeful operators must remain patient through the state's licensing process. Operators receive a provisional license prior to receiving a final license with the expectation that facilities will work toward meeting the compliance inspection requirements set forth by the CCC. Additionally, those participating in the Social Equity program or are an Economic Empowerment applicant will receive priority during the reviewing process.
To apply within the state of Massachusetts, you must register here.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF CANNABIS IN MASSACHUSETTS?
Possession of small amounts of cannabis became decriminalized in Massachusetts in November 2008 with the passage of the The Massachusetts Sensible Marijuana Policy Initiative. The initiative made possession of less than one ounce of cannabis punishable by a $100 with no possibility the citation would be reported to the state’s criminal history board. For minors who are found to possess more than one ounce, parents must be notified. The minor must also participate in a drug awareness program and complete ten hours of community service. This is a drastic change from the previous law in which those charged with cannabis offenses faced up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.
The Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative also known as Question 3 was approved by a 63% vote allowing for the establishment of a state Medical Cannabis Program. Effective January 1, 2013, patients could purchase and possess up to a 60 day supply, or ten ounces per two months of medical cannabis. Although some towns and cities attempted to ban cannabis businesses in their local municipalities, Attorney General Martha Coakley later ruled bans would conflict with the law and municipalities were only allowed to regulate, not ban cannabis.
As a result of the November 8, 2016 election, recreational cannabis for adults 21 years and older became legal in Massachusetts. Although provisions for home grown cannabis went into effect on December 15, 2016, dispensary doors did not open until November 20, 2018. In terms of recreational cannabis facilities, local municipalities have the authority to require local permits and decide whether or not a facility may be established.
DOES MASSACHUSETTS HAVE A HEMP PROGRAM?
ARE YOU PREPARING FOR THE MASSACHUSETTS CANNABIS MARKET?
Massachusetts is currently accepting applications for new cannabis facilities providing ample opportunities for entrepreneurs within the state. Point7 is pleased to offer an array of products and service packages that are customizable to your needs. Whether you are in the beginning stages of the application process, or are already operating and need procedures and compliance assistance, Point7 has the knowledge and resources to assist you.