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It's The 1st Day Cannabis Licenses In Mass. Can Be Issued, But Expect A Slow Rollout

So-called "economic empowerment applicants" for marijuana licenses say they face obstacles in applying and negotiating with cities and towns. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
So-called "economic empowerment applicants" for marijuana licenses say they face obstacles in applying and negotiating with cities and towns. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
This article is more than 1 year old.

It's June 1, a key date in the state's efforts to set up a legal adult-use cannabis industry.

Massachusetts law allows the Cannabis Control Commission to begin awarding licenses to marijuana businesses FridayBut don't look for a flood of licenses right away.

Nothing can happen until this coming Tuesday, the next time the commission meets. What's more, applicants still need to check a list of boxes before receiving a license, like getting local approval and passing a background check.

"We're doing our work, but we're also dependent upon getting feedback in terms of background checks," Steven Hoffman, chairman of the commission, said after the group's most recent weekly meeting. "We are required to get feedback from the cities and towns that their requirements have been met."

Cannabis businesses need approval from the city or town in which they will operate before the commission will award a license. Once filed, local communities have 60 days to approve or deny an application.

As of May 29, 38 license applications -- including 10 retail stores and 16 cultivators -- have submitted paperwork to the commission for license review. The commission has not revealed where those businesses seek to operate.

Licensed retail stores can open their doors to the public as early as July 1, although observers of the new industry say only a handful of businesses — likely those already operating a registered medical dispensaries -- will be able to do so.

Another prediction: Expect cannabis and cannabis product shortages for a few months while cultivators get licensed and begin to grow their product.

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Steve Brown Twitter Senior Reporter/Anchor
Steve Brown is a veteran broadcast journalist who serves as WBUR's senior State House reporter.

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