There’s a difference between a personal medical marijuana license and a licensed marijuana establishment. A medical marijuana license is a little card that says you can go to one of the dispensaries and purchase medical marijuana. But now that states have legalized cannabis for people 21 and older, we’re going to start seeing more licensed marijuana establishments open.
You can get a license to run a whole shop. If you’re over 21 in Massachusetts, you can do that without having a medical marijuana card or providing for medical marijuana patients.
That makes me think about the neighborhoods that have been disproportionately affected by the drug war. This is something on which the Cannabis Control Commission has focused. If a person has ever been busted for possessing, selling, or trafficking marijuana, they can apply because the commission is trying to encourage people affected by drug laws to in some ways correct the decades of disproportionate damage on neighborhoods. The one caveat is that anyone arrested for selling marijuana to a minor can’t apply for a license.
There are a few rating categories of licenses that help prioritize certain applications.
The leadership rating refers to social justice. If you want to create a marijuana dispensary, retail shop, or cultivation center, you can prove to the commission that you are going to promote social justice. If you are a team of people who have lived or worked in disadvantaged neighborhoods and can prove that you work for social justice and want to open a marijuana shop, you actually have a better chance of getting a license to operate that shop.
This is helping the poor, helping people with mental illness, helping with drug prevention, overdose, crime, and things that affect disadvantaged neighborhoods.
The commission also really wants to encourage people to employ locally. Marijuana dispensaries in Colorado or California can bring their money and experts into Massachusetts and open dispensaries here. Well, Massachusetts is trying to encourage local people to get jobs and encourage dispensaries to hire people locally. There is the leadership rating, this ability for applicants to get top priority and open their shop earlier if they’re employing local people.
There is also an eco-friendly option to be environmentally friendly or efficient in your shop. A lot of cannabis cultivation techniques use tons of water, electricity, and chemicals. If you could prove to the commission that you’re going to use solar panels, electric transport vehicles, or efficient means of production then they will prioritize your application. That’s an interesting thing.
The last factor I’ll mention is “to create diversity and promote equity among minorities, women, veterans, people with disabilities, and people of all gender identities.” The state encourages you to apply. If a completely women-owned business working in an intercity applied for a marijuana license, the commission would likely put them right at the top of the permit list. That’s huge because the regulations to apply for any of these categories of license are immense.
Putting in the Work
You have to write a business plan. You have to write operational procedures for every single aspect of your plan. They want to know how you’re going get the marijuana, what you’re going to do with the marijuana, and where it’s going to be stored. They want to see security for your facility, who is going to be there, and where you get your money.
You have to write all of this out. Helping people write their applications is one of the services that I’m now providing, along with a colleague and a team of lawyers and accountants. Helping people understand the law, understand how to write a business plan, and find real estate.
If you have a skill in any field, you could probably apply it to cannabis. If you like the medical field, then there are a huge number of shops and dispensaries that are going to need medical professionals to help people understand medical marijuana and how to use it. If you like paperwork and being organized, every dispensary is going to have very strict bookkeeping procedures and rules. Whatever your skills are, now is the time into jump into the field.
Contact me if you have questions about how you might get started, where you might set up shop, and the best license to choose.