Pot Sales Are Now Legal In Massachusetts – So Why Can't Anyone Buy It?
On Sunday, Massachusetts became the seventh state in the nation – and the first east of the Rocky Mountains – where adults can legally purchase recreational marijuana. But for those hoping to toke up in the Bay State, there’s just one catch: There’s nowhere to buy it.
Massachusetts voters legalized recreational marijuana on November 8th, 2016. But in the 600 or so days since, a cautious bureaucracy and hesitant local communities have slowed the advent of recreational marijuana dispensaries. July 1st was the first day licensed stores could sell marijuana, but the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) – the body that regulates weed in the state – has not yet issued any licenses to retail outlets.
On Monday, the regulators finally approved the first recreational retail license in the state for a dispensary in the central Massachusetts town of Leicester. However, it will still be some time before it opens: Regulators need to approve a laboratory to test recreational marijuana before dispensaries can begin sales and all approved dispensaries are subject to inspections before they can welcome customers.
Since legislation only stipulated when marijuana sales could begin – not when they had to begin – no deadline was missed, CCC chairman Steven Hoffman tells Rolling Stone, adding that the commission is working effectively to get licensing done right the first time. “There is no legislative mandate for a start date for this industry: It’s do it right, to do it right for the long term. And that’s exactly what’s happening,” he says.
While the state missed its July 1st target date, those in the cannabis industry here anticipate that the first retail outlets will open in the coming weeks. But amid continued opposition to the drug from some local communities – which have to approve marijuana businesses