There is a lot of talk about the start of adult-use cannabis sales in Massachusetts this July. Massachusetts will be the first east coast state to offer the commercial sale of cannabis. The west coast is full of states that offer legal cannabis without the need of a doctor’s approval. California started selling legal adult-use cannabis at the beginning of the year and Nevada started selling marijuana last July. Of course, Washington, Colorado and Oregon have been selling weed for years now. The east coast loves marijuana too and so people are anxiously awaiting for the wave of legalization to hit the Atlantic ocean.
However, legislators in Massachusetts are not as anxious as consumers it seems. Despite being able to issue licenses to cannabis companies starting on June 1st, Massachusetts has not issued a single permit yet. Lawmakers keep telling reporters that they are more concerned about getting licenses issued correctly rather than rushing through the process. We spoke with Kamani Jefferson of the Mass Rec. Council earlier in the year and he had this to say about the likelihood of adult-use stores being open come July, “I am going to be brutally honest. We will be lucky to see 3 maybe 5 stores open in the whole state by July.”
Massachusetts voters approved the referendum to create a commercial cannabis industry in 2016 and the Cannabis Control Commission already postponed the start of adult-use sales once. Sales were meant to begin on January 1st, just like California, but a six-month delay pushed the start to July. The Director of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, Shawn Collins, has told reporters that the state is looking at applications and begun background checks on some of the applicants. It seems that the companies that are likely to be open in July are already established licensed medical marijuana providers. The commission must also check with towns and counties to make sure that the stores are meeting all zoning mandates.
A group of mayors around the country have formed a coalition supporting the STATES Act, a bill sponsored by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren that has already received a tentative approval from the President. However, Boston’s own Mayor Walsh is not joining that commission. Walsh cites his own alcoholism as the reason for not supporting either the coalition or backing the adult-use market in Massachusetts. Many towns and counties around Massachusetts are also banning stores or the commercial sale of cannabis within their municipalities.
Massachusetts has a lot to financially gain from a commercial adult-use market. Demand for cannabis is strong in the northeast and the potential for tax revenue is extraordinary but difficult to estimate. Other New England states have also legalized recreational marijuana like Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire but do not have a structures for the commercial sale of cannabis. New Yorkers, residents from Pennsylvania and even New Jersey do not have far to go to travel to Massachusetts. The tax revenue generated from the sales of adult-use cannabis could represent a windfall of capital to the Bay State. The money can be used to improve the already robust public school system in Mass and also for repair of roads any many other state necessities for the commonwealth.