MRCC

Grow, Gift, Repair

Banking?

CCC Chairman Steven Hoffman said Thursday that regulators don’t expect to drastically reduce the illegal market right away and that he focuses more on what the legal market’s health will be in a few years.

“I think standing up an industry that is safe and accessible is the best defense against the illicit market,” he said. “I don’t have any expectation that it’s going to disappear overnight but I certainly have the expectation and I think we have the commitment to the state to do everything we can to see it significantly decrease over time.”

The chairman said he does not expect the CCC will alter its plans or the pace at which it considers and approves business licenses. Hoffman has previously said he expects four to eight new retail stores will open their doors each month.

In the last month, the CCC has authorized four retailers to begin operations and three of them have opened for business while the fourth awaits local permission to open. No retailer has received permission from the CCC to open since Jan. 16.

“I’m comfortable and I’ve defended this many times. I’m comfortable with the pace that we’ve gone at to this point, I think we’ve done it right,” he said. “We are absolutely concerned about how this industry looks over the long-term and we feel like we’re doing it at the right pace and in the right manner.”

With some stores having been open now for almost three months, Hoffman said he’s also comfortable with the access retailers have to banking services. Because marijuana remains wholly illegal at the federal level, many banks have balked at doing business with marijuana firms so as to not risk their federal protections.

Two Massachusetts banks — GFA Federal Credit Union based in Gardner and BayCoast Bank based in Swansea — have begun to work with marijuana businesses. A third bank, which Hoffman said has asked not to be identified publicly, is also serving marijuana businesses.

“I’m reasonably comfortable that we’re bringing banks in at a pace that is consistent with the pace at which we’re opening,” the chairman said. “The current licensees that are operational, I believe, are all banked … even though I would like the move the banking process along more quickly, obviously there is a limit to what I can do but I’m comfortable that we’re moving at a pretty good clip there.”

Hoffman said the CCC is in discussions with three additional banks about serving state-legal marijuana companies. He said the discussions “are not trying to talk them into anything, but answering their questions and helping assuage some concerns.”