Microbusinesses must be locally owned and can grow up to 5,000 square feet of mature cannabis plants at any time, compared to other cultivators that can reach 100,000 square feet.
So far, only four of 227 cannabis licenses awarded in the state are microbusinesses. Another 11 have submitted applications. These companies’ licensing fees tend to be $3,000, records show, lower than larger businesses’, which can range from $5,000 to over $25,000.
This fall, the commission granted microbusinesses and others faster reviews. Microbusinesses owned by people who were affected by the war on drugs or who are helping those communities will be among those with exclusive access to delivery licenses.
Commissioner Shaleen Title said she believes more microbusinesses will become licensed to operate soon. Although the state wants to help certain types of applicants, she said, everyone must comply with the same health and safety regulations for marijuana establishments. She said microbusinesses often face hurdles raising capital, securing real estate, and navigating local government approvals called host-community agreements.
“It’s ultimately up to all of us to get involved in our local host-community process to decide what the legal cannabis industry will look like in Massachusetts, because the decisions to choose which qualified businesses will move forward are made at the local level,” Title said. “If more municipalities join the state in supporting smaller, local cannabis businesses, then more microbusinesses will open.”
While many parts of starting up a business are outside the commission’s control, several microbusiness applicants said the state licensing process was opaque and slow, stretching for months without explanation while they paid thousands of dollars in rent. They described repeated instances of commission staff asking for more information, sometimes with a month between questions.