In 2008 Massachusetts voters decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis and in 2012 Massachusetts became the 18th state to legalize medical cannabis through a ballot.

In November 2016, Massachusetts voters approved Question 4, the initiative to legalize the recreational use of cannabis for adults 21 years of age and older. In December 2016, the Massachusetts state legislature voted to delay sales of recreational cannabis for six months. Originally, licensing for cannabis shops was set to begin in January 2018, but the delay moved the date and first retail cannabis business opened in Massachusetts in November 2018.

In 2018, there were over 60,000 (up from 19,000 in early 2016) people who have gotten medical cannabis cards that allow them to use medical cannabis legally to treat a variety of ailments. They were served by 47 medical cannabis dispensaries.

As of February 2019, there are over 300 pending applications, including 130 retailer, 87 cultivator, 44 manufacturer, 12 microbusiness, 11 transporter and 4 testing licenses. 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.

Cannabis stores sold about $9.3 million worth of cannabis products during the first month and in February 2019 total legal cannabis sales exceeded $40 million, according to figures released by the Cannabis Control Commission.

It is expected over 700,000 customers potentially interested in using of a recreational cannabis. According to the Department of Revenue analysis, in the first 12 months of the program, Massachusetts could expect to see between $45 million and $83 million in tax revenue from the sale of recreational cannabis – with an estimated $64 million in the middle of that range. In the second year, Massachusetts could expect tax revenue between $93 million and $172 million, on sales ranging between $707 million and $1.3 billion.

Research from multiple cannabis data and investment firms predict Massachusetts can become such a travel destination.

Cannabis Taxes.

Under the new law, recreational cannabis is taxed 17 to 20%. The baseline tax is 17%, which is determined from a combination of a 6.25% sales tax and a 10.75% special excise tax on adult use. Cities and towns can choose to add a 3% tax on top of the 17%, tallying up to a 20% tax on retail cannabis.

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 started reviewing licenses for cannabis establishments. Issued the first provisional
      license.
  • November 20, 2018
    • First Retail Marijuana Establishments open in Massachusetts.

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