The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission has issued the first set of licenses for cannabis retailers since the state voted to legalize in 2016, WGBH reports.
Retail licenses were awarded to New England Treatment Access (NETA) in Northampton and to Cultivate Holdings in Leicester; Cultivate Holdings has also received cultivation and product manufacturing licenses.
Some have accused the Commission of dragging its feet during the licensing process; Commission Chair Steven Hoffman responded:
“We’re doing it right. I’m very proud of the way we’re doing it. We’re being careful, we’re being thorough. In the long term, this is going to be in the best interest, I believe, of the citizens of the state of Massachusetts.” — Cannabis Control Commission Chair Steven Hoffman, via WGBH
While this is an important development, the bigger milestone will be when stores officially open — but regulators say that could take several more weeks, as Massachusetts still lacks a licensed testing lab to guarantee that products on the state’s cannabis market do not contain pesticides or other potential contaminants. Hoffman said the Commission may vote to license a testing lab during their next meeting.
One commissioner, Shaleen Title, abstained from voting on the retail licenses because she disagreed with some of the host community agreements the businesses had arranged with municipal governments. “I cannot in good faith affirmatively vote to approve a licensee that has signed a community host agreement that at best is questionable, when it relates to the law, and it has not been reviewed,” said Commissioner Title.
NETA spokesperson Amanda Rositano said the company was happy with their host agreement, however, which required the company to provide a $10,000 donation for cannabis education and prevention programs and three percent of the company’s future gross sale revenues.