BOSTON (CBS) – The future sale of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts took a big step forward Monday. It’s day one for businesses to apply to sell pot to adults over the age of 21. While this is just the beginning of the process, there are still a lot of hurdles to overcome.
“Today marks a milestone in adult use of cannabis in Massachusetts,” says Michael Dundas, president of Sira Naturals, owner of three medical marijuana dispensaries in Cambridge, Somerville and a newly opened shop in Needham. He’s beginning the application process that will allow Sira to expand dramatically. “We hope to, in working with the communities in which we operate, to eventually operate co-located medical and adult use or recreational marijuana facilities in each of those locations,” he says.
Licensed dispensaries are the first to be allowed to start applying, as are what are called “economic empowerment applicants.” “Which are people from communities that have been disproportionately harmed by previous drug laws,” says Steven Hoffman, the chair of the Mass. Cannabis Control Commission.
“I think you’re going to see a steady climb of applications coming in and then as cities and towns get more inclined to approve them, you’ll see more actual licenses being issued,” says Shawn Collins, the Commission’s Executive Director.
In coming weeks, the application process for recreational marijuana stores will expand. But one of the biggest hurdles is finding communities willing to allow the pot shops to operate. And running a medical marijuana dispensary is no guarantee.
“Most communities in the Commonwealth have yet to zone for recreational or adult use cannabis. So we’re working with the cities of Cambridge and Somerville as well as the town of Needham to figure out how they want to approach that issue,” says Michael Dundas of Sira Naturals.
The target date for adult use marijuana sales is July 1st. However, the Cannabis Commission can’t issue licenses before June 1st, so shops won’t have much time to prepare. That’s why dispensaries that are already operating have the early leg up.