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Licensing looms as next step toward legal marijuana

Next month, Massachusetts regulators will start taking applications for commercial pot businesses.
marijuana, weed, pot
From April 2 until April 16, the CCC will allow prospective businesses to apply to be part of the commission's priority certification process. Photo: Getty Images

With less than a month until it is required by law to begin accepting applications for legal marijuana businesses, the Cannabis Control Commission on Thursday approved the process and timeline it will use to review and process licenses.

"We are on track and we are capable of accepting applications for April 1, the technology will be there to support that endeavor," Executive Director Shawn Collins said, adding that the statutory deadline of April 1 falls on Easter Sunday.

"The first step in the application process is to certify those priority applicants ... and that will begin in earnest on April 2."

From April 2 until April 16, the CCC will allow prospective businesses to apply to be part of the commission's priority certification process, which is open to registered marijuana dispensaries (RMDs) and those eligible to apply through the CCC's economic empowerment program. Those approved for priority certification will then be able to submit their marijuana license application beginning April 16.

May 1 will be the first day the CCC accepts applications for cultivators, craft marijuana cooperatives, microbusinesses and independent testing labs. Marijuana retailers, product manufacturers and transporters will be able to apply for licenses beginning June 1, the CCC said.

The decision made Thursday "balances the significant progress we have made over six months with our responsibility to launch an efficient, orderly, and thorough application process in April," Collins said.

"Our approach supports the unknown number of applicants who will be utilizing our licensing system for the first time, and staff who will be charged with certifying that establishments and agents are qualified to serve residents throughout Massachusetts," he said. "This choice will help ensure the process moves smoothly, which is in the best interests of the industry and the Commonwealth."