Massachusetts Cannabis License Guidelines

Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission

Licensing and Enforcement Criteria

The Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been placed in charge of the legal cannabis market for the state.

The mission of the Cannabis Control Commission is to honor the will of the voters of Massachusetts by safely, equitably and effectively implementing and administering the laws enabling access to medical and adult-use marijuana in the Commonwealth.

No marijuana establishment may cultivate, process, test, store or manufacture marijuana or marijuana products at any location other than at a physical address approved by the commission and within an area that is enclosed and secured in a manner that prevents access by persons not permitted by the marijuana establishment to access the area. A greenhouse or outdoor marijuana cultivation area shall have sufficient security measures to demonstrate that outdoor areas are not readily accessible by unauthorized individuals, including perimeter security fencing designed to prevent unauthorized entry.

No marijuana establishment shall cultivate, manufacture, sell or otherwise transact business with any products containing cannabinoids other than those that were produced, distributed and taxed in compliance with this chapter or any hemp and hemp products cultivated and manufactured in compliance with a license from the department of agricultural resources pursuant to chapter 128 and is in compliance with regulations set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture.

No licensee shall operate a marijuana establishment without an operations certificate issued by the commission.

Massachusetts Cannabis Law & Compliance

Several laws and ordinances regulate the Massachusetts commercial cannabis industry, as well as the many different steps in the supply chain. These laws range over dispositions for cultivators, manufacturers, distributors and retail dispensaries. The most recent news can be found on these websites:


What kind of business license can I apply for?

The following license types are available:

  • Craft Marijuana Cooperative
  • Delivery-Only
  • Independent Testing Laboratory
  • Marijuana Cultivator
  • Marijuana Microbusiness
  • Marijuana Product Manufacturer
  • Marijuana Research Facility
  • Marijuana Retailer
  • Marijuana Third Party Transporter
  • Marijuana Transporter with Other Existing Marijuana Establishment License
  • Medical Marijuana Treatment Center
  • Microbusiness Delivery Endorsement
  • Standards Testing Laboratory

Are licensees allowed to sell a branded good and use the proceeds to support a charity or non-profit as part of a Plan to Positivity Impact Areas of Disproportionate Impact?

Yes, this is allowed. However, prior to making any donation to a charity or non-profit as part of a Plan to Positively Impact Areas of Disproportionate Impact (Positive Impact Plan), the licensee must obtain written correspondence from the recipient organization indicating that they will accept the donation. This relationship should be disclosed within the Positive Impact Plan and the certified letter should be included in the license application.

Can standalone marijuana product manufacturers, microbusinesses, craft marijuana cooperatives, or cultivators sell branded goods?

Yes, standalone marijuana product manufacturers, marijuana microbusinesses, craft marijuana cooperatives, and marijuana cultivators can sell branded goods wholesale to another ME in compliance with the commission’s regulations. Additionally, marijuana product manufacturers, marijuana microbusinesses, craft marijuana cooperatives, and marijuana cultivators may sell their branded goods via their own e-commerce platforms, however, they may not sell such items directly to consumers from their physical location. Marijuana couriers and marijuana delivery operators may sell branded goods to consumers as part of completing a delivery order. Additionally, licensees must ensure customers are 21 years of age or older when they purchase the item and continue to maintain compliance with all advertising requirements set forth in 935 CMR 500.105(4)(b)(15).

Can the Commission grant me a license before I have a business location?

No. In order to receive a license for an ME, applicants must have a location designated. Applicants must also have the approval of the municipality in which they are located, through a Host Community Agreement (HCA). The Commission does not require that the property is fully built-out at the time of application. After receiving a Provisional License, licensees may submit to the Commission an Architectural Review Plan. If approved, licensees may then build their facility.

Municipalities may have their own zoning and other local ordinances that must be complied with as well. Municipal information can often be difficult to find, so the Commission has created a Municipal Zoning Tracker to assist in locating that information. For more guidance on zoning or siting issues, we recommend you contact the municipality within which you hope to locate your business. You can locate the appropriate contact information by clicking on the name of the municipality in the Municipal Zoning Tracker. The Commission has also developed a Guidance for Municipalities on Equity and Host Community Agreements that offers guidance and tips to cities and towns.

Is there a cap to the number of investors we can have?

No. There is no limit to the number of investors for an application. Depending upon their involvement in the proposed ME or their percentage of ownership or control, however, they may be required to be listed on the application itself and be subject to the Commission’s background check. State law does, however, limit the number of licenses in which any entity or individual may have an ownership or controlling interest, so applicants and licensees are reminded to consider license caps when investing in or contracting with MEs. Please refer to the guidance for business and licensure for more information.

What is the difference between a Research License and a Research Permit?

Once an entity has been granted a Marijuana Research Facility license, it will then be required to obtain a Research Permit from the Commission. A Research Permit means a certificate from the Commission to conduct a specified research study over a specified and finite period.

For clarity, a Marijuana Research Facility license generally allows research to be performed at an identified location. The Research Permit identifies the type of research study to be performed at the licensed premises of a Marijuana Research Facility.

What information needs to be submitted to the Commission to obtain a Marijuana Research Facility License?

Generally, all Marijuana Research Facility applicants will need to comply with the same application requirements for other MEs. Some requirements include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Certification of a Host Community Agreement;
  • Identification of a proposed location and property interest documentation (e.g. lease, binding permission to use the premises, title to the property, etc.);
  • Conduct a Community Outreach Meeting;
  • List all Persons or Entities Having Direct or Indirect Control;
  • List all capital contributors and upload any loan/management agreements;
  • Provide background authorization forms for applicable persons;
  • Supply and upload compliant summaries of plans, policies, and procedures for security, inventory, quality control and testing, storage, etc.; and
  • Supply and upload a Diversity Plan and Plan to Positively Impact Disproportionately Harmed People (formerly called Positive Impact Plan).

What is the Responsible Vendor Training (RVT) Program?

Under the RVT Program, the Cannabis Control Commission (Commission) certifies companies to provide the annual minimum training of four hours to Marijuana Establishment (ME) and Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MTC) Agents. All ME and MTC Agents involved in the handling and sale of marijuana for adult and/or medical use need to successfully complete training by a Commission-certified vendor within 90 days of hire.

Who may apply to be a Responsible Vendor Trainer?

Responsible Vendor Trainers must be independent from MEs and MTCs. Owners and employees of vendors in the RVT Program cannot have a controlling interest in any licensed ME or MTC. The Commission has also designed standards to ensure that trainers do not sell certain services, equipment, or supplies from third parties.

There are no regulatory requirements or limitations on the types of companies or individuals, or location of business, that can apply to become a Responsible Vendor Trainer. In general, applicants are either individuals or educational entities that teach a variety of curriculums or certification programs for adults. Expertise includes, but is not limited to medical cannabis, criminal justice, cannabis business, and education.

Massachusetts Cannabis License Types

Craft Marijuana Cooperative

A Craft Marijuana Cooperative is a type of Marijuana Cultivator that allows growers to join together and grow up to 100,000 square feet of marijuana plants among them.

A cooperative must satisfy the following conditions:

  • All members of the cooperative must have lived in Massachusetts for at least one year prior to submitting an application.
  • The cooperative must include Massachusetts residents who have formed a limited liability company, limited liability partnership, or a cooperative corporation. 
  • The members of a Craft Marijuana Cooperative may not have a controlling interest in any other ME. 
  • A Craft Marijuana Cooperative is not limited to a particular number of cultivation locations, but is limited to three locations for activities authorized for marijuana Product Manufacturers with a total canopy of 100,000 square feet.
  • One member of the Craft Marijuana Cooperative must have filed a Schedule F tax form during the past five years. 
  • The Craft Marijuana Cooperative must operate according to the seven cooperative principles published by the International Cooperative Alliance in 1995.


A Cultivator is a business licensed to cultivate, process, and package cannabis and to transfer marijuana to other MEs—but not to consumers. 

A licensee may not have a total canopy of more than 100,000 square feet. 

Canopy is measured as the boundary that contains mature plants at any point in time. If mature plants are being cultivated using a shelving system, the surface area of each level is included in the total canopy calculation. A canopy may be noncontiguous and may include:

  • Interior walls
  • Shelves
  • Greenhouse walls
  • Hoop house walls
  • Garden benches
  • Hedge rows
  • Fencing
  • Garden beds
  • Garden plots

Independent Testing Laboratory

An Independent Testing Laboratory is an entity that is properly accredited to perform tests in compliance with the requirements of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health protocols for testing cannabis and cannabis products.

Marijuana Courier

A Marijuana Courier licensee may deliver marijuana or marijuana products directly to consumers and patients at a residential address from a licensed Marijuana Establishment (ME) or Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MTC) with which the Marijuana Courier has a delivery agreement. A delivery agreement sets forth the business terms of their agreement, as well as procedures for pre-verification of consumers receiving deliveries. A Marijuana Courier shall not have a retail location accessible to the public. Residential deliveries of marijuana or marijuana products are limited to municipalities that:

  1. Are listed on the Commission-issued license as the licensee’s place of business;
  2. Allow for the operation of Marijuana Retailers whether one or more establishments are operational or not; and
  3. Opt-in to residential delivery.

Marijuana Delivery Operator

Marijuana Delivery Operators allowed to purchase marijuana and marijuana products from licensed Marijuana Cultivators and Marijuana Product Manufacturers and sell and deliver to consumers. They may also securely store on their premises marijuana and marijuana products that have been purchased at wholesale for eventual resale to consumers.

Residential deliveries of marijuana or marijuana products are limited to municipalities that:

  1. Are listed on the Commission-issued license as the licensee’s place of business;
  2. Allow for the operation of Marijuana Retailers, whether one or more establishments are operational or not; and
  3. Opt-in to residential delivery.

Marijuana Research Facility

A Marijuana Research Facility is defined as an academic institution, non-profit corporation, domestic corporation, or other entity authorized to cultivate, purchase, or otherwise acquire cannabis for the purpose of conducting research regarding cannabis and cannabis products.


A Microbusiness is a co-located ME that can be either a tier 1 Marijuana Cultivator or Product Manufacturer—or both. A Microbusiness that is a Marijuana Product Manufacturer may purchase no more than 2,000 pounds of marijuana per year from other MEs. The majority of executives or members of a Microbusiness must be residents of Massachusetts for no less than 12 months prior to applying for a license. Application and license fees for Microbusinesses are set at 50% of the combined sum of the application and license fees for cultivation and/or manufacturing.

Microbusinesses also may offer delivery service upon receiving a Delivery Endorsement from the Commission.

Product Manufacturer

A Product Manufacturer is an entity licensed by the Cannabis Control Commission to obtain, manufacture, process, and package cannabis, or marijuana products and to transfer these products to other MEs, but not to consumers.


A Marijuana Retailer is an entity authorized to purchase and transport marijuana and marijuana products from other MEs, and to sell or otherwise transfer marijuana and marijuana products to other MEs and to consumers. 

A Marijuana Retailer provides a retail location which may be accessed by consumers 21 years of age or older or, if the retailer is allocated with a MTC, by individuals who are also Registered Qualifying Patients or personal Caregivers.

Standards Laboratory

A Standards Laboratory performs blind tests to verify the results of Independent Testing Laboratories.


A transporter is an entity that solely transports cannabis or cannabis products. There are two types of transporters:

  • Third-party Transporter
    An entity registered to do business in Massachusetts that does not hold another ME license pursuant to 935 CMR 500.050 and is not registered as an MTC.
  • Existing Licensee Transporter
    An ME that contracts with other MEs to transport their marijuana and marijuana products to other MEs.

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