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Massachusetts’ Highest Court to Hear Two Cases on Municipality Discretion in Cannabis Licensing

On February, 3, the highest court in Massachusetts, the Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) will hear two cases involving municipalities’ scope of authority in allowing adult-use cannabis businesses, Mederi Inc. v. City of Salem and CommCan, Inc. v. Town of Mansfield.

The facts leading up to the Mederi case began nearly three years ago in 2018 when Mederi Inc. was denied a host community agreement (“HCA”) with the city of Salem following a Committee of applications for more than the City’s five allotted marijuana retailer slots. The Superior Court held that Salem did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in declining to execute an HCA with Mederi. The Superior Court also ruled that G.L. c. 94G, § 3 also gives municipalities broad discretion to determine with whom to execute an HCA, and that the Legislature did not intend for the Cannabis Control Commission (“CCC”) to be the sole cannabis licensing authority. Mederi filed an appeal. The appeal was set to be heard before the Massachusetts Appeals Court when the SJC sua sponteannounced it would be moving the case into their court.