You can start cannabis cultivation, cannabis dispensary, cannabis processing, testing and transporting business in Massachusetts.

Licenses will cost a $3,000 non-refundable application fee, plus $15,000 for a Cultivation, Processing and Dispensary, $10,000 for a Testing license.

Recreational Licensing

In total, 108 prospective marijuana businesses have submitted at least one “packet” of the application to the CCC and 51 have submitted all four necessary packets, including 15 retail stores. The review process includes a background check and a 60-day window during which the municipality in which the business hopes to locate must certify that the applicant has met all local requirements.

Worcester County had 16 applications, Middlesex, Norfolk, Bristol and Plymouth counties all had 5 applications each, Suffolk County, which includes Boston, had two applications, and Berkshires County had a single application. The commission has already issued six provisional licenses to retail stores.

Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) Deadlines

March 15, 2018 CCC shall promulgate rules and regulations for the issuance of licenses.
April 1, 2018 Accept applications for licenses.
April 1-15, 2018 Review applications of operating medical establishments and businesses that demonstrate experience in or business practices that promote economic empowerment in communities disproportionately impacted, for grant or denial of license.
May 1, 2018 Independent Testing Laboratory regulations and rules promulgated.

Regulations for Nantucket and Duke counties promulgated.

June 1, 2018 CCC received first applications including 51 the most completed to review.
July 1, 2018 The program was stated to begin recreational cannabis sales July 1, but the start date wasn’t mandated by law.

Massachusetts law requires all cannabis products to be independently tested for potency and possible contaminants before they’re sold. The state already has testing facilities for medical cannabis, but those laboratories must obtain separate licenses to test recreational cannabis.

There will be a maximum of 75 manufacturers until October 2018 and a max of 75 cultivators until October 2019.

Process for Recreational Cannabis Dispensary Licensing

When the Cannabis Control Commission receives an application, it will send a copy of the application to the city or town in which the cannabis establishment is to be located. It will then determine whether the applicant and the premises qualify for the license and has complied with this chapter. Within 90 days, the business will be issued an appropriate license, or be informed of the rejection, along with an explanation.

Existing medical cannabis businesses will receive priority licensing, but that preference ends in 2018. If the Commission hasn’t provided for commercial retail by 2018, the existing medical cannabis dispensaries can serve all adults until they do.

Localities can regulate time, place, and manner no more restrictively than medical marijuana is regulated. Localities can limit the number of establishments, but complete bans or limits below 20 percent of off-site alcohol sales licenses or limits below the number of medical marijuana establishments must be approved by voters. Localities can establish nuisance ordinances to restrict cultivation and to restrict signage.


The baseline tax is 17 percent, which is determined from a combination of a 6.25 percent sales tax and a 10.75 percent special excise tax on adult use.

Any city or town may impose a local sales tax upon the sale or transfer of cannabis or cannabis products by a cannabis retailer operating within the city or town to anyone other than a cannabis establishment at a rate not greater than 3 per cent of the total sales price received by the cannabis retailer as a consideration for the sale of cannabis or cannabis products.

Registered Medical Dispensary (RMD)

To begin the RMD application process, an applicant must submit an Application of Intent.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. We offer Cannabis Business Plan Templates, including pro forma financials and projections to help you know how much money it’ll cost to start your business and how much money you can make by starting and operating your 100% legally compliant medical and recreational cannabis business.

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