Recreational Marijuana Applications Open in Massachusetts

At noon on Monday, the Bay State will allow certain businesses to apply for licenses to join the legal pot industry.

Marijuana buds on white background with jar

photo via istock.com/Nastasic

Legal pot is getting a step closer to reality in Massachusetts on Monday.

At noon, the state’s portal for recreational marijuana licenses will go live, giving some businesses the chance to submit a bid to join the industry. And though the creation of a website may not seem revelatory, the system’s debut kicks off a series of milestones that will ultimately lead to recreational pot sales across the state.

Massachusetts is rolling out its application process in three waves, and the first batch of eligible businesses is made up of pre-existing medical marijuana dispensaries and companies connected to communities with high rates of drug-related arrests, according to the Boston Globe. The state is giving priority to “economic empowerment applicants” to account for the racial disparities that have plagued marijuana enforcement in the past.

Though applications won’t be fully open until June 1, when retail stores, transit companies, and producers of items made from marijuana derivatives can submit bids, Jim Borghesani, a marijuana advocate, told the Boston Herald he expects a “significant number of applications,” due to “a great deal of interest in opening facilities in Massachusetts.”

To account for this demand, the Cannabis Control Commission plans to beef up its nine-member staff. Steve Hoffman, the chairman of the commission, told the Globe the small team, which is set to grow to around 37 people once hiring is complete, will work extra hours to process applications efficiently.

Legalization has already been delayed by six months, and in February, the Cannabis Control Commission voted to reduce the summertime roll-out of legalized pot. Retail shops and suppliers are still on schedule for a July 1 start date, but delivery and social consumption licensing will not begin until the fall.