How To Open A Dispensary in Massachusetts

How To Open A Dispensary in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is the first state on the East Coast to legalize marijuana, and it is poised to overtake California as the country’s second-largest market. Unfortunately, due to strict regulations, local government opposition, and high entry barriers, the rollout has been slow. However, the Massachusetts Cannabis business revenue is now slowly picking up. And according to the data interpreted by The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, the Bay State had combined to sell more than $1 billion worth of cannabis products since November 2018. This data was collated from the state’s Metrc “seed-to-sale” tracking system (real-time tracking and tracing of marijuana plants and products) from 80 dispensary operators.

Can I open a dispensary in Massachusetts right now?

The time is right to open a dispensary in Massachusetts. But be prompt since the state government reserves the right to limit the number of new licenses issued at any time. Grab the opportunity before the government halts the application process. To give your dispensary an edge, try offering home delivery of medicinal marijuana products.

Once up and running, dispensaries can be quite profitable. Most dispensaries earn more than $50,000 per year and can generate millions of dollars in profits over time.

Current Cannabis Laws in Massachusetts

  • Allows use of cannabis for medical purposes since 2012.
  • Approved use of cannabis for recreational purposes but in limits in 2020.
  • At present, there are two consumption lounges in Massachusetts where you can consume cannabis legally.

Age limit to purchase Marijuana

  • The laws of medical marijuana are different from recreational laws.
  • Age restriction on recreational cannabis is 21 years.In case of a qualifying condition, you are entitled to receive a Massachusetts medical marijuana card and begin purchasing at the age of 18 years.

Limit To Possess Cannabis for an Individual

  • You can possess up to 1 ounce of weed and up to 5 grams of marijuana concentrate outside of your home.
  • You can grow up to 6 plants at home for personal use, or up to 12 plants for two or more adults.
  • You will find yourself on the wrong side of the law if you consume any form of medical marijuana in public.
  • Only Massachusetts residents who are Registered Qualifying Patients or their Caregivers are permitted to acquire medical marijuana.
  • The Massachusetts state law allows you to transfer up to one ounce to another person.

Here is the complete list of Laws And Penalties In Massachusetts.

Tax Rates

  • The effective tax rate in Massachusetts is 20%.
  • 3% municipal sales tax is also levied on dispensaries.

The Current Cannabis Market in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts market is considerably smaller as compared to other legal cannabis markets. It is estimated that the adult-use sales in 2021 is going to reach $1 billion.

By November 2020, there were around 84 licensed cannabis dispensaries, 53 retailers had provisional licenses and another 166 retailers with pending applications in Massachusetts.

According to the Boston Business Journal, there are around 100,000 medical marijuana patients in Massachusetts.

Types of Cannabis Licenses in Massachusetts

Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MTC)

A Medical Marijuana Treatment Center or MTC is a business that operates under medical standards. An MTC has the permission to:

  • Obtain and Cultivate
  • Possess and Process
  • Transport and Deliver
  • Sell and Distribute
  • Dispense and Administer marijuana and/or cannabis-based products, related supplies, and/or informative materials for medical use to registered eligible patients or their personal caregivers.

After getting Commission clearance, MTCs may supply marijuana and its products directly to patients and caregivers. Apart from MTC here is a list of other licenses required to start a cannabis business in Massachusetts:

  • Marijuana Cultivator
  • Craft Marijuana Cooperative
  • Marijuana Product Manufacturer
  • Marijuana Retailer
  • Existing Licensee Transporter
  • Third-Party Transporter
  • Marijuana Research Facility
  • Independent Testing Laboratory (ITL)
  • Micro-business
  • Delivery-Only
  • Social Consumption

When applying for a license these are the things you must take note of:

  • The Commission considers license applications in a specific order set by regulations.
  • The initial review may not start straight away as other applications may be on priority and hence your application may be in a queue.
  • Remember that priority status in the application process may be granted to MTC priority applicants or Economic Empowerment applicants who have previously been identified as such by the commission. This means that the commission will consider these applications ahead of others.
  • Please ensure that all information requests are fully complied with, in order to reduce the time taken to receive the license, if applicable.
  • You will be notified by the commission once your application is deemed complete. The notification will include the payment instructions for a background check, fingerprint instructions, and application process alerts. Applicants for provisional licenses must pay fees within 90 days.

How to Get a License

Here is a step-by-step guide to get a license:

Step 1 Prospective dispensary applicants must visit the Cannabis Control Commission‘s (CCC) website to submit an application for a dispensary license. If no licenses are available, sign up for the CCC’s email alert list to be the first to receive announcements from them.
Step 2As the next step, you’ll need to register an account on the Massachusetts Cannabis Industry Portal (MASSCIP)
Step 3 After you’ve logged in, scroll down until you see “Apply for a Marijuana Establishment License.”Select “View More” from the drop-down menu.”Scroll down on the page until you find the option to “Apply for a Marijuana Retailer License.”Click on “Start Application.”
Step 4Remember you must complete all three sections of the application: Application of Intent, Background Check, Management and Operations Profile

Under Management and Operations Profile Section

In the Management and Operations Profile section, adult-use marijuana retailers must include a full description of their intended plan for getting marijuana from a licensed marijuana establishment.

Management and Operations Profile section of MTCs must include the following plans, policies, and processes: 

  • Plan to supply low-cost or no-cost marijuana to patients with documented verified financial difficulty.
  • A strategy for adhering to any applicable delivery rules
  • A plan for marijuana cultivation in accordance with 935 CMR 501.120, including pesticide use.; and
  • List of all products that you plan to produce with the following info:
    • Description of kinds, forms, shapes, colors, and flavors of products
    • Process of production
    • A safety plan in accordance with 935 CMR 501.130 for the manufacture and production of products; and
    • Sample of the unique identification mark that will appear on the goods.

Massachusetts Dispensary Fees

The following cannabis licenses must be renewed annually. Application fees, on the other hand, are paid only once throughout the application process.

Type of DispensariesApplication FeeOther Fees
Recreational Dispensary$300Retail Store License Fee, Testing Lab, Product Manufacturer or Micro-business Fee: $31,500
Registered Dispensary$1,500New or Renewed License Fee: $50,000
Apart from initial fees start-up dispensaries may need $250,000 to $1,000,000 for consulting fees, permits, and it’s associated costs.

The other cost heads, a prospective dispensary owner may have to pay:

  • Host community agreements: Medical dispensaries in some Massachusetts cities are required to pay five- or six-figure fees as part of a “host community agreement” that allows them to operate there.
  • Monthly tracking system fee: Except for micro-businesses, Massachusetts compels cannabis enterprises to pay a monthly fee to use Metrc – a seed-to-sale tracking system.
  • Background check: To guarantee that you haven’t been convicted of trafficking-controlled substances to minors, all marijuana business license applicants must go through a background check and fingerprinting.

What Else Do You Need to Open a Dispensary?

1. Create A Solid Business Plan

This is the most important step in the process of opening a new dispensary. Start by defining the mission and vision of your dispensary. Ask yourself the following questions for a good start:

  • What is your aim – is it to provide high-quality medicinal marijuana or do you want your store to cater to recreational users.
  • Are you focusing on providing stable jobs and income to local residents?

Once you determine the answers to these questions you will be able to write a solid business plan for your cannabis business.

2. Plan Your Financials

Chart out your cost head expenses effectively. Ensure you have enough finances to kickstart the dispensary. You can also seek a business loan if required.

3. Hire Your Team

Hire hardworking, passionate, and relatable people to staff your store. Look for these qualities while hiring the team:

  • Serious attention to detail
  • Extensive knowledge of each product
  • Strict adherence to stringent regulations surrounding cannabis
  • Capable of improving the experience of each shopper

4. Find The Right Location

While choosing the perfect location for a dispensary, you may face the challenge of having to follow additional regulations. Although laws and regulations may differ from state to state but typically:

  • Dispensaries must be at least 500 m away from any school, church, or community center.
  • They must also be located in their own separate building rather than being part of a strip mall or shopping complex.

5. Apply For Licenses

To open a dispensary or any other business you will need licenses. The licenses will vary according to the state. You can check out the license section above to know which licenses you need to open a dispensary in Massachusetts.

6. Understand State & Federal Taxes

Cannabis businesses have to pay taxes at two levels – state and local municipalities. Take a look at this guide to get the basic information about taxes in each state where cannabis businesses are legal.

7. Build Your Network & Community

Every business needs community support to start, grow and thrive. Start networking with the locals to understand how they feel about your business coming up at their location.

8. Choose an IT Partner

To set up your store you need an IT partner, and who better than Cure8 could help you with it. We can take care of all your IT solution requirements such as security cameras, Wi-Fi devices, tablets, barcode scanners, and much more.

9. Create Your Digital Presence

A good website and a robust SEO plan can help grow your cannabis business to new heights.

10. Plan Your Launch

Launching your dispensary is not a day’s work. It has to be taken care of much before. Advertise legally and effectively to ensure that your store’s opening is a grand success.

How Cure8 Can Help

We are a leading cannabis IT solutions company. From security cameras to POS station positioning, to get all the tech equipment such as barcode scanners, receipt printers, tablets, and much more for your business, we help you to set up your dispensary as per your plan.

With our assistance, you will be able to innovate faster, easily scale up or down with your demand and stay secured with our IT services. Talk to our experts today, to get started right away.

Read This Next

Cannabis Business Funding Guide

Opening a new cannabis dispensary routinely costs more than $1 million. Getting this amount of cannabis business funding can be difficult for first-time owners. Here’s our advice on how to overcome what for many is the biggest obstacle to opening their own dispensary.

Related Posts

Scroll to Top