BOSTON- Recreational cannabis sales in Massachusetts may not start on July 1 as previously planned.
The Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) held a meeting on Thursday but failed to issue its first commercial business license. Without it, dispensaries will not be able to sell recreational cannabis flower or products.
CCC Chairman Steve Hoffman said that the commission planned to issue licenses soon but did not set any specific deadline. Hoffman referred to the July 1 deadline as “arbitrary” at the commission’s meeting and indicated that part of the delay was linked to background checks of applicants still being processed.
Hoffman said that a delay may be preferable to than a flawed launch of recreational cannabis sales.
‘‘We are going to do this right,’’ he said according to The Boston Globe. “If that means we have few or no stores on July 1 and it takes a few more weeks, I hope and expect that everybody in the state believes that’s the right thing to do. We certainly believe that’s the right thing to do.”
Though it seems unlikely that dispensaries can be ready in two weeks without even an idea as to when they will be licensed, Hoffman still said there was a possibility recreational sales could start on July 1.
In total, 28 organizations have applied for the state’s 53 available licenses. Besides the CCC review, individual municipalities also have the opportunity to review applications and ensure that businesses meet local regulations.
The process may be lengthy but Hoffman believes Massachusetts can avoid the problems seen with other state’s rollout of cannabis sales.
“Other states that rushed to hit an arbitrary deadline ended up with no inventory in some cases, ended up with no licenses in place, no background checks being done, no online inventory being done. We are not going to do that,” Hoffman said.
The panel will meet again next Thursday and could start issuing licenses then.
However, this may not give shops enough time to prepare for July 1 sales. A lack of a hard start date can be problematic for growers. Harvesting cannabis from seed to sale takes several months. Without knowing exactly when they can sell their product, many growers may have been hesitant to produce cannabis in bulk and risk losing big money.