In Massachusetts, businesses will have other hurdles to overcome, such as a regulation that limits indoor cultivation operations to 36 watts per square foot of canopy. That rule effectively limits cultivators to using only LED lights.
“Trying to cut down the carbon footprint in the industry is a really laudable goal,” Krane explains. “But I think there are other things they could’ve done to reduce the carbon footprint,” such as considering total energy used at the facility rather than just focusing on lighting.
Another requirement that businesses will have to contend with is the host community agreement. By requiring agreements with municipal officials—who have no set criteria for accepting or rejecting potential marijuana establishments—it effectively allows towns to ban cannabis businesses.
Perhaps the most worrisome part of the process, however, is whether or not there will be enough supply to meet the demand. “There will be shortages come mid-July,” predicts Keith Saunders, a sociologist who researches drug policy and sits on NORML’s board. Given the timeline for evaluating applications, awarding licenses and building cultivation facilities, and then growing, harvesting, and curing the marijuana, “new cultivators’ products will not be available until December.”
Some advocates were also displeased with the delay in social-use licensing. Cities such as Denver and San Francisco have established municipal licenses for social-use businesses, and Massachusetts could’ve become the first state to license social use. “Lounges or cafes would be really impactful for the tourism industry,” says Krane.
Other avenues to consumption are available, though. Saunders says when he was working with a cannabis trade show last year, he was able to find a venue that allowed cannabis consumption. “For the time being, those of us who would like to run a cannabis-consumption event just have to be sure to do it on private property.”
Even without allowing social use, the state is set to become a tourist destination for cannabis. “Massachusetts will be the only state east of Colorado with a legal market, come July 1,” Saunders boasts. “There are about 25 million people within a day trip of Massachusetts.”
The fight for equity in the industry will no doubt be a tough one. “Do not expect cannabis legalization to address the problems of capitalism, and of greater racial problems,” Saunders says. “Banks are not going to suddenly offer business loans to poor people just because a section of law says they get first dibs on obtaining a business license.”
Although the equity program will offer “assistance with identifying or raising funds or capital,” it’s no secret that sources for capital in the marijuana industry are hard to come by. Most institutional investors are barred from entering it, leaving a small pool of family and individual investors.
But Shaleen Title is up for the challenge. She’s looking forward to making the state’s legalization measure “manifest into reality” and to continued activism around the country. “Social-justice improvements such as sentencing reform, clemency for people incarcerated for marijuana offenses, expungement of past records and treating people who use drugs like human beings will be priorities for future generations.”