State House News Service and Associated Press  June 14, 2018

BOSTON — Prospects for retail pot shops opening for business in Massachusetts by a July 1 target date appear to be dimming.

The state’s Cannabis Control Commission met Thursday without issuing the first commercial business licenses under the state’s voter-approved recreational marijuana law.

Steven Hoffman, the commission chairman, told reporters that regulators hope to begin issuing licenses ‘‘shortly,’’ but added he couldn’t offer a specific date.

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Hoffman described the July 1 date for retail sales given in the law as an ‘‘arbitrary deadline’’ and not a mandate. He also said regulators are still awaiting background checks and other information on the more than two dozen entities that have applied for retail or other types of marijuana business licenses.

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Hoffman also said he would be OK with having no retail shops open for a few weeks after the July 1 target date if it means avoiding a problematic rollout.

‘‘We are going to do this right,’’ he said. “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.”

Hoffman said he expects the commission will begin taking up license applications “soon.” When asked if July 1 could still be the first day of legal marijuana sales in Massachusetts, he said, “It could be.”

Already, 28 entities have applied for 53 business licenses and the CCC has begun to review those applications. The review process includes a background check and a

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