Massachusetts could approve first retail cannabis licenses

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The final retail marijuana licensing votes will be held today in Massachusetts

Two communities in Massachusetts could become the first in the state to host retail marijuana stores. During today’s meeting by the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), the commission will hold the final licensing vote to determine whether or not to allow the retail outlets. The vote won’t lead to an immediate opening of the stores, but it could be an indication that the long-anticipated opening of the first retail outlets in the eastern part of the US is coming to an end.

New England Treatment Access (NETA) and Cultivate Holdings were given provisional retail licenses by the CCC this past July. Both already operate medical marijuana dispensaries – NETA in Northampton and Cultivate in Leicester – and are waiting to hear if they will be licensed to sell to the retail market. Both have already paid their licensing fees and have passed inspections that ensured compliance with zoning and other local requirements. If the stores are given the green light by the CCC, they still have to complete a few more steps, including an integration of their inventories into a statewide marijuana tracking system.

The final approval isn’t a sure thing. Regulators still haven’t issued licenses to independent testing labs and testing is a state requirement before any cannabis products can be sold.

Recreational marijuana use was approved in Massachusetts almost two years ago. However, legislators have been slow to enact the appropriate regulations. It would now seem, in a small way, that real progress is finally being made.