The first recreational retail marijuana facility is licensed in Massachusetts. Cultivate was awarded the first recreational retail cannabis license located in Leicester, Massachusetts. Similarly, Sira Naturals was awarded a provisional tier 3 cultivation license by the Cannabis Control Commission following a unanimous vote in the town of Milford.
The Issue for Massachusetts
Massachusetts has a licensed retailer and a licensed cultivator. So, what’s the problem? THE SCIENCE!
The Cannabis Control Commission has not yet licensed an independent testing laboratory. The Massachusetts adult use cannabis laws require a cultivator to have finished product tested and passed by an independent lab prior to hitting a retail location’s shelves available for purchase.
While ProVerde is one of the only medical testing labs operating in Massachusetts, you would assume they would naturally be one of the labs licensed under adult use.
The Cannabis Control Commission requires that labs acquire a signed Host Community Agreement, a certified revenue share agreement between the hosting municipality and the operating cannabis business up to 3% of total revenue. This is a uniform requirement to operate any cannabis business in a municipality.
Chief Scientific Officer of ProVerde, Christopher Hudalla, says they are unsure whether they will pursue a Host Community Agreement to operate as an adult use independent testing labs. No labs have applied for approval yet. Hudulla is quoted saying.
“Analytical testing is not a high margin activity,”
“I know in the past some community host agreements have been fairly costly to an organization.”
This illuminates a critical problem in the adult use cannabis supply chain; testing the cannabis prior to sale at the retail level.
Without any independent labs licensed nor applied, adult use cannabis cannot be available for sale despite having licensed cultivators, retailers, and law in full effect.
These unforeseen strains (no pun intended) in the adult use program slows the overall rollout while forging opportunities for out of state or new labs looking to franchise or reach new markets.
While Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission deliberate approach to MA’s adult use roll out may leave consumers waiting, it ensures necessary legislation and development of procedures for a smooth roll out. States like California have been quick to roll out programs that left consumers happy, but legitimate businesses in a hectic gray area. Allison Noble, Retail Director of In Good Health, a vertically integrated MA medical cannabis company, says
“I trust that the CCC is working diligently to assure that our Adult Use program is launched in optimal light. Taking the time now to dot I’s and cross t’s will prevent some of the inevitable hiccups. It will be best for everyone, businesses, and consumers if the program is rolled out slowly and thoughtfully opposed to hastily and carelessly.”
This methodical approach enabled the Cannabis Control Commission to pass the first and only social equity program in the cannabis industry. They have developed a pathway for those previously excluded/ underrepresented by the cannabis community due to access to money, criminal history, ethnicity, or lack of skills to be included in the burgeoning MA cannabis industry. Shaleen Title, Commissioner of the Cannabis Control Commission, says
“As the Commonwealth moves rapidly toward the beginning of adult-use cannabis sales, we are obligated by both the law and our values to ensure that the communities previously targeted by the War on Drugs have a fair shot to participate in this market,”
“Now that the equity program is in place, I look forward to a wide range of vendors providing deserving applicants with skills, connections, and resources to help them thrive in the cannabis industry.”
While the adult use program is still being implemented and consumers are waiting, it has allowed for the development of one of the most equitable and thought out recreational cannabis programs in the country.
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