Massachusetts Cannabis License Guidelines

Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission

Licensing and Enforcement Criteria

The Cannabis Advisory Board is charged with studying and making recommendations to the Cannabis Control Commission on the regulation and taxation of marijuana in Massachusetts.

The board issued a set of specific licensing and enforcement criteria:

  • Licensees must meet the same standards that apply to an alcohol business licensee. Previous marijuana-related convictions won’t disqualify anyone from licensure. Prospective grow operation owners should be aware that the Cannabis Control Commission can institute an absolute cap on marijuana cultivation statewide.
  • After an application is received by the CCC, they will forward a copy to the local authorities who will have the final say on whether the application is approved or rejected. In any case, the applicant will be notified within three months.

For adult use, the costs are:

  • Initial Application fee: up to $3,000
  • License for retail marijuana store: $15,000
  • License for a marijuana cultivator: up to $15,000
  • License for a marijuana testing facility: up to $10,000

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:

FAQs

How to apply?

  • All applications have three parts: Application of Intent packet, background check packet, management and Operations Profile packet
  • The Commission starts the review process as soon as the application fee and the first packet are submitted, but the application will not be approved until all the materials are submitted.
  • The Application of Intent asks for: individuals and entities involved with the establishment; the establishment’s financial resources and funding sources; the property where the establishment will be located; the establishment’s host community agreement and local outreach; how the establishment will positively impact areas of disproportionate impact.
  • The Background Check asks for information necessary to conduct background checks on all individuals and entities listed in application of intent.
  • The Management and Operations Profile packet asks for detailed information about the marijuana establishment including business plans and operating policies and procedures.

Why is my application taking so long to be reviewed?

The Commission is committed to ensuring applications are reviewed for completeness and conform with state regulations and laws. Rather than give applicants only one opportunity to submit all their required materials before going to the Commission for a vote, Commission staff reopens applications and works with applicants to obtain all of the information needed before a recommendation is made to Commissioners to approve or deny the application.

Applications may need to be reopened to get more information from the applicants. Incomplete applications cannot be approved. Commission staff are working as quickly as possible to process applications while maintaining a deep commitment to maintaining a safe and fair licensed industry.

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.

Why can’t I get pre-certified before I am required to complete the total application?

The pre-certification application will be available to those who wish to apply for Delivery- Only and Social Consumption Licenses when they become available. Please see page 40 of the Licensing Guidance for additional details.

Can the Commission assign an Application Manager to be a point-person for me and to ensure my application gets reviewed by only one individual?

Commission staff have reviewed the suggestion that applicants be assigned an individual Licensing Department staff member so that applicants know who to contact for more information and to get updates on their application reviews. Currently, applications are reviewed based on priority/expedited status and then by the time the application is initially received.

Staff conduct supplemental reviews based in the same order and having an individual assigned to a single application could preclude staff from following this policy. The Commission recently increased personnel in the Licensing Department to meet demand and will continue to review applications quickly and thoroughly.

Why can’t the background check happen earlier in the licensing process?

Background checks are initiated once an application has been deemed complete and occur largely at the expense of the applicant. Prior to being deemed complete, an application may be amended several times, and those amendments may pertain to individuals or entities with ownership or control. If the Commission were to initiate a background check prior to an application being deemed complete, the entity may incur additional and unnecessary expenses.

Why do I need to have a letter from the non-profit or charity that I intend to donate to indicating they would accept my donation?

A letter is needed because some non-profit or charitable entities, especially those that serve youth populations, are prohibited by law or contract from receiving funds from certain sources, such as firearms, tobacco, and alcohol. They may also prohibit donations from MEs, which would ultimately lead to an inability of a licensee to comply with specific provisions of their Plan to Positively Impact Disproportionately Harmed People.

Why did the Commission reopen my application to ask me about the size, shape, and flavor of my proposed edibles?

The Commission’s regulations expressly prohibit the manufacture or sale of edible products that are in the shapes of humans, animals, or fruits, or that may bear a likeness to cartoons or other artistic renderings. The packaging and labeling of such products may also not resemble products that are typically marketed to minors. As a result, applicants are asked to confirm that the products they intend to manufacture would not violate these various restrictions.

Massachusetts Cannabis License Types

There are many different license types for cannabis in Massachusetts. We are here to help you understand which one is the best for you and your business.

Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (“MTC”)

A MTC acquires, cultivates, possesses, processes, transports, sells, distributes, delivers, dispenses, or administers marijuana, products containing cannabis or marijuana, related supplies, or educational materials to registered qualifying patients or their personal caregivers for medical use. MTCs may deliver marijuana and marijuana products directly to patients and caregivers after receiving CCC permission. Fee for application is $3,500, annual fee is $50,000.

Marijuana Cultivator

A Marijuana Cultivator may cultivate, process, and package marijuana to transfer marijuana to other Marijuana Establishments (“ME”) but not directly to consumers. Cultivators must operate under a specific tier level based on the total canopy they will cultivate. Applications are required to change tiers, and the CCC will evaluate if a Cultivator is in the correct tier based on cultivation and production history, transfer, sales, and excise tax payment history, and existing inventory and inventory history, among other factors. Fees for the initial application and annual license are based on tier with a tier 1 indoor operation starting at $200 application fee and $1,250 for the annual license fee and ending with a tier 11 indoor operation costing $2,000 for the application fee and $50,000 for the annual license fee.

Craft Marijuana Cooperative

This is a type of Marijuana Cultivator which may cultivate, obtain, manufacture, process, package, and brand marijuana and marijuana products to transport marijuana to MEs, but not consumers. Craft Marijuana Cooperatives are not limited to a particular number of cultivation locations, but is limited to a total canopy of 100,000 square feet and three locations for activities authorized for Marijuana Product Manufacturers. This type of ME must operate according to the seven cooperative principles published by the International Cooperative Alliance in 1995 found here. Fees are paid in relation to its canopy size. If there are more than six locations, then there are additional fees.

Marijuana Product Manufacturer

This ME type is authorized to obtain, manufacture, process, and package marijuana and marijuana products, to transport marijuana and marijuana products to MEs, and to transfer marijuana and marijuana products to other MEs, but not to consumers. Fee for application is $1,500, annual fee is $10,000.

Marijuana Retailer

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. This ME must provide a retail location for recreational patients, or if collocated with an MTC, by individuals who are also registered qualifying patients or caregivers. Fee for application is $1,500, annual fee is $10,000.

Existing Licensee Transporter

An ME that is otherwise licensed by the CCC and also licensed to purchase, obtain, and possess marijuana or marijuana products solely for the purpose of transporting, temporary storage, sale, and distribution on behalf of other MEs or MTCs to other establishments, but not to consumers. Fee for application is $1,000, annual fee is $5,000.

Third-Party Transporter

This license is for an entity that does not hold another ME license and is not licensed as a MTC. A Third-Party Transporter may only transport marijuana or marijuana products to consumers or between MEs and MTCs. Fee for application is $1,500, annual fee is $5,000.

Microbusiness

A Microbusiness is a collocated Tier 1 Marijuana Cultivator and/or Marijuana Product Manufacturer limited to purchase 2,000 pounds of marijuana from other MEs in one year. A Microbusiness license shall not be a person or entity having direct or indirect control for any other ME except a Social Consumption Establishment.

This license type may apply for a Delivery Endorsement from the CCC which would allow the licensee to deliver marijuana or marijuana products produced at the licensed location directly to consumers. Fee for application is $1,000, annual fee is 50% of all applicable license fees.

Delivery-Only Licensee

A Delivery-Only Licensee may deliver marijuana or marijuana products directly to consumers at a residential address provided by a licensed Marijuana Retailer with which the Delivery-Only Licensee has a delivery agreement. The delivery agreement sets forth the business terms of their agreement, as well as pre-verification procedures for consumers receiving deliveries.

These licensees may not have a retail location accessible to the public. There are specific requirements for where and when this type of license can be operated, and it would be most beneficial to contact our firm to evaluate eligibility requirements. Fee for application is $1,500, annual fee is $10,000.

Social Consumption Establishment

A Social Consumption Establishment means an entity licensed to sell marijuana or marijuana products and allow consumers to consume marijuana or marijuana products solely on its premises. The application for this license will be made available only after six communities have been selected to participate in the CCC’s Social Consumption Pilot Program. Fee for application is $1,500, annual fee is $10,000.

Delivery Endorsement

In addition to the license types discussed, the CCC may grant delivery endorsements to qualifying MEs. This endorsement allows the licensee to perform deliveries direct from the licensee’s ME to consumers. This endorsement is only available to MEs licensed as Microbusinesses and controlled by and with majority ownership comprised of Economic Empowerment Priority Applicants or Social Equity Program Participants. Fee for application is $1,500, annual fee is $10,000.

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