When the Cannabis Control Commission meets Thursday afternoon, it will consider granting six final licenses, including one for a Pharmacannis Massachusetts retail store in Wareham. But as the legal marijuana marketplace continues to take shape in Massachusetts almost two years after being approved by voters, final does not necessarily mean final.
The CCC has granted final licenses to four businesses — two retailers and two testing laboratories — but none can begin operations until the CCC gives them the notice to commence full operations. The CCC confirmed on Monday that it has not issued any such notices.
Before the CCC will issue the notice to commence full operations, it must inspect the premises of the licensee, ensure that the establishment’s inventory of marijuana is properly tagged and synced up to the CCC’s seed-to-sale tracking system, verify that any conditions imposed when the final license was granted have been met and make sure that all establishment employees are properly registered with the CCC.
Norton Arbelaez, the head of government affairs for New England Treatment Access, said his company has been working since the 2016 legalization ballot question passed to be prepared for the launch of recreational sales in Massachusetts. NETA has been given a final license to sell non-medical marijuana from its existing medical dispensary in Northampton.
“We don’t know what exact day it is we will open,” he said. “I would expect that it will be in the next couple of weeks.”
NETA built an addition to its cultivation facility and increased its production capacity by about 60 percent, and has hired about 100 new employees between its locations in Northampton, Brookline and Franklin, he said.
“This is something we put an inordinate amount of thought into,” he said.
Now, with NETA “on the one-yard line here,” Arbelaez said the company is working to meet all of the CCC’s requirements and is waiting for the testing labs that must approve all marijuana before it is sold to get their final approvals. NETA has not set a date for the start of non-medical sales.
“We’ve received our license, but our opening is really contingent upon a couple of last or final operational details, particularly the uploading and access to the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system,” he said. “We are waiting on a final, final, final go-ahead from the triple-C, which we expect to happen in the very near future.”