Grow, Gift, Repair

Hurdles of the Cannabis Industry

Sira Naturals is one of the more-established medical dispensaries and has opted to shift its focus to the consumer market. Sira currently has two medical dispensaries — Somerville and Cambridge. All cultivation is done in Milford. Since Sira was only awarded a “license to cultivate cannabis for recreational use” at its Milford location, it must now go through the zoning processes in Somerville and Cambridge in order to sell legally grown cannabis in the places where it has been operating medical dispensaries.

It’s a backwards system, from the inside out. Once zoning is settled, the company will receive a local permit, allowing it to advance to the next step — applying for state adult-use retail licenses.

In my opinion, the hardest blows to an already-fractured system have come from the resistance of communities unwilling to allow retail shops. Even more disconcerting is many of those opposed to it seem to be incredibly misinformed. I have spoken to everyone from Reefer Madness-types to vigilantly pro-cannabis activists and everyone in between — and believe me, there are many “in-betweens.” These individuals are typically happy to banter back and forth and aren’t anti-cannabis. They’re just confused like everyone else and feel it’s being pushed on them.

Almost 200 communities and counting have banned recreational cannabis and continue to hold moratoriums on allowing retail cannabis shops to operate within their borders. And now, just in time to make matters worse, Attorney General Maura Healey ruled that the moratoriums created to give communities time to set up local regulations and zoning can be extended through June 2019.

Two absolutely vital areas that are further complicating the chances of seeing any shops soon are banking and laboratory testing.