WITH THE JULY 1 TARGET DATE for legal pot sales looming, Worcester County is emerging as marijuana central in Massachusetts.

According to data presented at the Cannabis Control Commission meeting on Tuesday, residents of the central Massachusetts county that stretches from the state’s northern border to the Connecticut and Rhode Island state lines have filed 16 applications for licenses to sell, grow, or manufacture marijuana. The commission also wants to locate its permanent headquarters in Worcester, which could add to the county’s image as the center of the nascent industry in Massachusetts.

No other county has more than five applicants. Berkshire County has one and Suffolk County only has two. There are none from Barnstable County, where most towns have enacted bans. No one from Nantucket nor Martha’s Vineyard has begun the four-part application process yet, even though voters on both islands approved the statewide referendum in 2016. The lack of applicants, though, may have a lot to do with the obstacles those on the island face in testing and acquiring marijuana products because of federal laws that would prohibit transporting pot by air or sea.

Steven Hoffman, chairman of the Cannabis Control Commission, said he’s not concerned about the dearth of applicants “at this early stage” of the process, noting there’s still time for applications to come in. He said some potential applicants have put off filing applications while the work with local officials.

“It is a question of where the RMDs (registered marijuana dispensaries) are located, since a lot of the applications we have are from existing dispensaries,” Hoffman said. “One of the clear objectives we’ve stated is to make this accessible broadly throughout the state. Six months, 12 months from now, if we’re seeing communities that seem to be underserved, that would

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