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June 29, 2018, Massachusetts
It has now become a general legislative practice in every state to delay the commencement of legalized cannabis operations. The latest case is of Massachusetts. The state of Massachusetts approved the legalization of adult-use marijuana in 2016 through a public ballot. The initiative was then approved by Massachusetts legislature as well. However, two years have passed by and retail sales of recreational marijuana haven’t become a reality.
In the original ballot question, the proclamation date to begin cannabis sales was January 1st, 2018. It was later moved six months further to July 1st. But the situation on the ground is clearly suggesting that the retail sales can’t be commenced from next month.
The state’s cannabis control commission has met several times but they haven’t issued a single retail license. According to the officials, they want to ensure a methodical rollout of adult-use operations instead of just putting it abruptly into place. So, all those people vying to buy some legal weed in the state this summer, this is not a possibility anymore.
July 1st is not a Legislative Compulsion
According to the chairman of Massachusetts cannabis commission, Steven Hoffman, to start the legalized sales from July 1st was their objective and not a legislative compulsion. It is an arbitrary date set to outline a licensing process. Hoffman has also made it clear that the commission is not going to compromise on the legitimacy of the process just for the sake of promptness.
Outside contractors assigned to do background checks of the applicants haven’t completed their job, as per Hoffman. In total, the commission received over 1,000 applications from retail and cultivation ventures out of which only 53 were fully completed and ready for final review from the board. There are 36 applications for retail ventures and 17 for cultivation facilities. It is interesting to note that all the retail applicants are already operating MMJ retail operation in the state.
Local Municipalities: Part of the Problem
Many local governments in the state have put a moratorium on cannabis businesses; while others have put several restrictions on the where they can be located. This local authority to control legal cannabis operations has also dragged the process of licensing.
Hoffman admits that even if all things go well and licensed ventures start their operations in time, the residents will face some difficulties in getting the strain because of the sparse set of the legal retail stores.
Massachusetts Have Learned its Lessons From Other Legal States
Hoffman has also talked about how rushing into legalized operations without sufficient groundwork has created operational difficulties in the legal states. For instance, in California, the retail market is facing an acute shortage of the strain because of the great disparity between demand and supply. He hopes that the residents will understand the practical implications of implementing cannabis policy and gladly grant the commission few more weeks to come up with a streamlined, hassle-free recreational retail market in the state.