Nonetheless, the start of the application process brings with it a new sense of momentum, following a six-month delay imposed by the Legislature and a monthslong debate over the nitty-gritty of the rules for the recreational industry.
“It’s an exciting step,” said Steve Hoffman, chairman of the cannabis commission. “It’s starting to become real.”
Hoffman said state technology contractors and commission staff would be stress-testing the online system over the weekend to ensure it can handle a flood of submissions.
But the agency’s meager staff — just nine people today, eventually swelling to about 37 — may be the bigger constraint on how applications are processed. Hoffman pledged the small crew will work long hours to keep a backlog of applications from building.
Hoffman, who previously led software firms in the private sector, added that while he was confident the system should be able to handle a large volume, “the tech gods do have their own mind.”
Kamani Jefferson, head of the Massachusetts Recreational Consumers Council, which represents pot consumers, said he was concerned about municipal foot-dragging and local zoning rules that favor established operators.
Still, Jefferson said, he felt relief that the long journey to legalization seemed to be nearing an end.
“You feel it in the air,” Jefferson said. “You feel it in conversations with consumers and potential business owners. It’s something new; it’s exciting.
“It’s not going to be overnight, but it’s definitely here in Massachusetts.”