There are officially over 200 retail licenses for adult use cannabis in Massachusetts, following the Mar. 10 monthly meeting of the Cannabis Control Commission.
“It’s not a milestone that triggers any event, but it does speak to the work of our staff,” said CCC Executive Director Shawn Collins. “We continue to grow the presence of marijuana retailers across Massachusetts.”
The commission also granted final licenses to two delivery operators, leaving them one step away from receiving a commence operation order. At that point, the clock will start on the three-year period where social equity and economic empowerment are exclusively able to obtain delivery licenses.
“With the issue of a final license, that is a significant milestone,” said Collins, who noted that there were already 65 pre-certified endorsements for delivery, meaning that many more delivery licenses will likely be issued over the next few months.
Courier license holders and microbusiness licenses with a delivery endorsement are currently the only operators allowed to deliver adult use cannabis to consumers. Courier license holders essentially function like DoorDash or UberEats, where the courier purchases from a retail storefront on behalf of their customer. Delivery is able to use wholesale cannabis without operating through a retailer.
As of March 10, six courier license holders had received commence operation certificates. There are also currently six microbusiness licenses with commence operation orders, though they do not all necessarily have delivery endorsements.
Collins also reported that the state had received 9,798 license applications still to be processed, but despite the high number only about 10% will demand action from the commission. This is because over 1,000 applications have been withdrawn, while over 7,000 are waiting for more information from the applicant.
“The majority of our work is in fact, not work pending before us,” said Collins.
As more cultivation sites become operational, Collins noticed that a majority of them are within the three smallest tiers of canopy size, accounting for 58% of all cultivation sites, none of which exceed 20,000 square feet.
In contrast, only 14% of the licensed cultivation sites sit with the 70,000-100,000 square foot range.
“I had an expectation that operators would gravitate toward larger square footage,” said Collins. “It’s obviously very expensive to build out a cultivation facility, especially indoor. That might be why folks might be gravitating toward the smaller end with intent, perhaps, to expand over time.”
Collins reported the state’s medical cannabis program continues to grow, having added over 3,000 new active patients from the same time last year, although there has not been a correlative increase in physicians and nurses certified to prescribe medical cannabis.
“In 2020, we saw a massive spike based on COVID and I think the closing of the adult use retailers while medical dispensaries stayed open,” he said. “What we’re not seeing is an increase in certifying physicians and nurses. We want to make sure we have a sufficient provider community to support our patients.”