When the people of Massachusetts voted to approve medical marijuana it was 2012, yet it wasn’t until almost three years later that they opened their first dispensary. Now, as voters wait for recreational shops to open, it looks like, despite Jeff Sessions, they will open in a timelier manner.
The November 16, 2016 victory had a rapid timeline for legal pot shops to open. Growing and giving away cannabis was okayed for December 2016, but delays occurred when Senator Brown and lawmakers went straight to work on rewriting what their constituents had already approved of via ballot. This meant that California, which voted on recreational marijuana at the same time, opened legal dispensaries before Massachusetts.
Though state regulators for legal cannabis dispensaries are getting the i’s dotted and t’s crossed on the paperwork, the timeline could still change. Bumps in the road and potential lawsuits could hamper progress.
US Attorney in Massachusetts Andrew Lelling had this to say after Jeff Sessions had his rescindment of the Cole memo, “I understand that there are people and groups looking for additional guidance from this office about its approach to enforcing federal laws criminalizing marijuana cultivation and trafficking, I cannot, however, provide assurances that certain categories of participants in the state-level marijuana trade will be immune from federal prosecution.”
Governor Brown shut Lelling down, saying that he hoped that the attorney would focus more on the deadly opiate epidemic rather that busting voter approved, law compliant pot shops. Still, the harsh comments caused additional concern as Massachusetts gets ready to adopt the changes they’ve been working on so long. It’s been nearly ten years since they first decriminalized the plant and then medical and now recreational. Forward moving progress indeed.
The timeline: The Cannabis Control Commission will begin accepting applications for retail, cultivation and post manufacturing on April 1, 2018. They must endorse regulations for standalone cannabis testing facilities by May 1, 2018. If all goes according to plan, the recreational licenses will begin being issued on June 1, 2018. The first pot shops should be opening on July 1, 2018, as long as everything goes as planned.