Pubdate: Tue, 03 Apr 2018
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2018 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: Dan Adams


In just the first day of accepting preliminary applications, the
Cannabis Control Commission said 23 companies and entrepreneurs had
submitted requests for expedited licensing, and another 167 were in
the process after the agency launched its online licensing system Monday.

"Yesterday was a seminal day in the thus-far-brief history of the
commission," said Steve Hoffman, the agency's chairman. "There were
probably a large number of people that didn't think we'd be ready on
April 2 to start accepting applications," but the agency's regulations
were in place on time last month and its system worked smoothly, he

The commission said it would publicly disclose information on
individual applicants in the near future.

Under state law, two groups will have their applications for marijuana
licenses processed ahead of other applicants: medical marijuana
dispensaries that are already open or have a provisional permit; and
so-called economic empowerment applicants, or companies that are led
by, employ, or benefit communities that had high rates of arrests for
drug crimes.

Once qualified by state officials, operators in those groups can
submit full applications beginning April 16.

Of the preliminary applications submitted or in progress so far, 77
came from medical marijuana companies.

That is not a surprise, as many of the approximately 135 medical
marijuana companies in Massachusetts had indicated they would seek
recreational licenses to bolster their business and to serve patients
who don't want to register with the state.

The other 113 preliminary applications came from prospective operators
who qualify for the commission's economic empowerment program. That's
a good sign for the agency's various efforts to redress the stark
racial disparities seen in the past enforcement of marijuana

"I'm encouraged by the strong interest demonstrated so far and hopeful
that many more qualified applicants will apply by April 15," said
Shaleen Title, one of the state's five cannabis commissioners and the
primary architect of the so-called "equity" provisions of the agency's
regulations. "Ultimately, it will serve the whole Commonwealth to have
thriving businesses promoting economic empowerment and creating jobs
in the same communities that previously had disproportionate numbers
of arrests."

The real test, however, will be whether those applicants actually get
licensed. To that end, the commission plans to offer technical
assistance and mentoring to applicants who live in areas that had
disproportionately high rates of drug arrests, were arrested for
drug-related crimes, or who have a close relative who was arrested for
drug-related crimes.

New operators who don't qualify for the economic empowerment program
can begin applying for licenses on May 1 or June 1, depending on the
type of business.

Amid the surge in applications, the commission's new licensing
software system held up, officials said.

"There were no blips, there was no stress," commission executive
director Shawn Collins said, "so we are very confident that as folks
continue to interact with our system it will perform as expected."

The cannabis commission Tuesday also voted to move its headquarters to
Worcester, from temporary office space in downtown Boston, probably
sometime in summer 2019. It will maintain a satellite office in the
Boston metro area and has started looking for spaces that are within a
quarter-mile of an MBTA stop.

"This is [a] statewide agency," Collins told reporters following the
commission's meeting Tuesday. "Having a location in the central part
of the state will allow us to get to every corner of the Commonwealth
with relative ease, and I also think there's cost efficiencies with
being in Central Mass."
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MAP posted-by: Matt