Massachusetts is being hit by the regulatory woes. Lawmakers in the State have been attempting to amend the voter approved recreational cannabis legalization law since it has been passed last November, and the lack of clarity is currently taking a toll on the state’s present medical marijuana community.
Municipalities across Massachusetts are slow to approve medical marijuana licenses due to the uncertainty enclosing the state’s recreational marijuana law. In the current status of the law, after recreational sales are approved, medical dispensaries will have the capacity to sell to the age-approved general public with no additional permits or licenses.
Massachusetts’ lawmakers have already delayed the start of retail cannabis sales once, and for Jim Fitzgerald, a local lawmaker in Marshfield, Massachusetts, and longtime proponent of medical marijuana, the lack of conviction about the upcoming recreational industry is enough to freeze his town’s involvement in the medical side of the industry.
According to Fitzgerald, “Until the state gets its act together, any discussion of a dispensary is simply a waste of time and air”.
Presently, there are just 10 medical marijuana dispensaries that are running in the state, but 80 more dispensaries are open for business in the state that have passed the initial licensing and locked down locations. And while it would make sense under the present legislative arrangement to get those businesses open as soon as possible to make the most of the imminent recreational regulations, investors are getting cold feet due to the bickering legislators.
“We don’t know what the regulations are, so we can’t do anything,” Jeremy Bromberg, COO of MassMedicum. Bromberg have a preliminary licenses for medical dispensaries in Holbrook, Amherst, and Taunton.
Construction on all three dispensaries has been blocked by MassMedicum as they wait for regulations and investors to catch up. Under Massachusetts’ medical marijuana laws, perspective businesses have just one year to set up stores after getting permits. Dispensaries granted initial approval before December 15, 2016 have an even more urgent timeline, as those medical facilities are permitted to apply for recreational licenses a year earlier than everyone else.
For the state’s medical marijuana community, the recreational laws has been nothing but a hindrance. Robert Proctor has been striving to start a medical dispensary, but hasn’t been able to make a deal with any local municipalities due to the recreational law.
“The progress we were making was excellent — until the recreational vote,” Proctor said. “All the towns where we were deep into dialogues said, ‘We’re going to wait until we see what happens with recreational.’ We came to discuss medical, but all they hear, see, and think is ‘pot stores.’”
Some municipalities are even requesting medical dispensaries to vow that once regulations are set, the won’t go recreational.
Massachusetts is set to be the East Coast’s first legal weed market, with expected millions in tax revenue and will be bringing tourism in the state. But if lawmakers continue to bicker on the industry’s guidelines, they risk alienating not only the recreational but also the medical industry – and just perhaps, losing the East Coast green rush to a state like Maine or Rhode Island.