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A Tour of Marijuana Dispensaries, Massachusetts/New England

Why Massachusetts is Nothing Like Las Vegas....Yet

In our continued effort to keep our followers informed on the state of marijuana legalization throughout the country, I traveled to Massachusetts for the beginning of adult-use sales set to start on July 1st. I am here for other reasons as well (I grew up here and graduated from UMass, Amherst) but if you are unfamiliar with the New England region, all of the states are really close relative to the west coast. As a kid I thought having a neighboring state being within a thirty minute drive or so was normal for everyone.

I also thought there would be a lot to cover with Massachusetts being the first east coast state to start selling recreational marijuana. The plan was to tour New England and see how legal cannabis was unfolding. Vermont’s new adult-use legislation became effective on July 1st as well but there is no structure for for the commercial sales of cannabis though the legislature is considering discussing it again later this year. Maine voters approved an adult-use market at the same time Massachusetts’s voters did in 2016, but they have a governor that just hates on cannabis and vetoes every bill for an adult-use market that crosses his desk. The math all added up to a potentially big turnout for Massachusetts with cannabis enthusiasts throughout the northeast flocking in to have an extra special 4th of July.

No such luck though. We spoke with Kamani Jefferson of the Mass Rec Council earlier this year and he warned us that he would be surprised if even a few dispensaries had been licensed by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission by July. Further research closer to the start date of July 1st confirmed that Massachusetts officials were just not in a rush to get adult-use dispensaries ready for July. The beginning of adult-use cannabis sales in Las Vegas one year ago had a huge turnout and since then sales of cannabis are generating massive amounts of tax revenue. Apparently Massachusetts did not see that as compelling enough data to make sure it was ready for the 4th of July holiday.

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Upon further research I did discover that two medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts had actually received an adult-use license. Cultivate out of Worcester and Sira Natural with locations in Cambridge, Somerville and Needham have both been granted commercial sale licenses. However, when I called both locations their automated system told me that they were not selling recreational marijuana but expect to later this year. Now that cultivators are winning licenses, they most go through other permitting processes, most important is establishing a means to have all of the cannabis lab tested.

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Lab testing marijuana is very important, but in Massachusetts not a single cannabis lab testing facility has even completed an application with the state to begin official testing. Perhaps if applications are properly filled out and the Cannabis Control Commission is on the ball for evaluating and approving licenses, then a store will open before the end of the month. I also discovered in my research that as medical marijuana dispensaries, these companies run out of their high demand products and patients have been complaining. If the dispensaries cannot keep up with medical marijuana demand, then how can consumers expect that they will be able to keep up with recreational demand?

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Richard Lowe

Richard Lowe, RIA, is a 14-year veteran of the financial sector with licenses as a commodity broker and investment advisor representative. Along with a focus on raising capital for the firms he was employed with, he also wrote and edited much of the content published by them. He holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts. He has been a longtime advocate for marijuana legalization due to the social injustices associated with marijuana prohibition and the strong potential for the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

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