3. When will recreational marijuana go on sale in Massachusetts?
Sam Barber, president of the Leicester company that was awarded a retail license Monday, told reporters he planned to begin selling product “in the next few weeks.” His company has only been granted a provisional license, which means the cannabis commission must still inspect his facility and screen his staff.
Kamani Jefferson, president of the Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council, said the state would need hundreds of cannabis retailers — verging on a thousand — to meet demand. A marijuana tourism website, My420Tours.com, tallied the number of recreational dispensaries in Colorado earlier this year: 518, nearly double the number of Starbucks coffee shops in the state, the website said.
Shaleen Title, a member of the cannabis commission, wrote on Twitter that “more licenses are coming.”
“We are moving super fast,” Title wrote. “Our staff goes nonstop.”
4. What’s the holdup?
Jefferson, the recreational marijuana advocate, said the vetting process for retailers has stalled at the hyper-local level — the zoning boards and town councils that must approve site plans for dispensaries within their municipal limits.
“The state is doing the best they can do with the resources they have,” he said. “It comes down to the local level – they have most of the power in the situation.”
Local officials can also set the tax rate on marijuana sold within their city or town’s limits, up to 3 percent. Unlike medical marijuana, recreational cannabis will be taxed. The state plans to levy a 6.25 percent sales tax and 10.75 percent excise tax, and leave to the discretion of municipal officials an option to levy the local tax up to 3 percent.
Because of the taxes, recreational cannabis will likely be more expensive than black market product when it first hits the shelves, Jefferson said. But as the state grants more licenses and stiffens the competition, he expects prices to drop.