On tap for 2019
Expect more stores to open up. There are more than two dozen retail shops with a provisional or final license, meaning they’re the closest to opening. And there are many more cultivators, product manufacturers, labs and other establishments also in the pipeline. (We’ve mapped all those businesses here.)
This year’s focus has been on getting retail shops open. But there is so much more to tackle. On the regulation side, there is debate over what is called social use. Massachusetts could have bars or clubs for cannabis, where you purchase and consume your marijuana on site, or BYOC type facilities — bring-your-own-cannabis.
After outcry from legislators — including the governor — the entire issue of social use has been tabled for now, promised to be pick up next year.
Cannabis cafes and similar types of businesses are said to be an easier port of entry for would-be entrepreneurs, especially those without a lot of startup money, like individuals in low-income neighborhoods or those disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.
Massachusetts’ law has provisions to help people affected by the war on drugs. So far, that has meant letting so-called economic empowerment applicants get to the front of the line, but there have not been any business owners who have fit the bill or even get to the point where they would be licensed.
There has not been one minority-owned business licensed so far, which worries Cannabis Control Commissioner Shaleen Title.
“For me, the nightmare scenario is we wake up in a year, we have a fully functioning industry, and we find that we did not meet our mandate, we did not meet our goal to have a diverse industry and it will be too late to change it,” she told Boston city councilors at a hearing in December.
Boston and other cities are trying to figure out how to make sure that doesn’t happen.
What we’re watching for in 2019
Those host community agreements are netting cities and towns 3 percent or more of revenue from the businesses that are open. So you can bet in the next few months, we will be asking those municipalities what they spent their funds on and whether it is directly related to the impact of the cannabis business in their community.
And now that the commission has a couple shops under its belt, how fast can they go through the process, while keeping the integrity of the process in place?