Boston’s Marijuana Market: What You Need to Know
March 20th, 2019
Every September, Bay Staters from all areas of Massachusetts gather in Boston for the annual Freedom Rally. Boston’s biggest event promoting cannabis legalization has helped steer Massachusetts in the right direction, what with residents voting to legalize the recreational use of cannabis for people aged 21 and older back in 2016.
The law legalizing recreational cannabis in Massachusetts went into full effect on July 28, 2017. Codified as G.L. Ch. 94G, the law allows consumers to carry a maximum of one ounce on their person and 10 ounces inside their home. Legislation was officially signed on December 30, 2016 by Governor Charlie Baker, who delayed the launch date for licensed recreational cannabis sales by six months.
After a two-year wait, in July 2018, the first few recreational cannabis dispensaries in the eastern half of the United States opened their doors in the “Bay State”. By the end of 2018, a total of five stores statewide were selling cannabis to customers aged 21 and above.
Now, here we are in the year 2019, which is expected to be a successful year for the cannabis industry in Boston, as well as many other parts of MA.
“People will get to see, over the course of the year, what a real market looks like,” said leading cannabis industry consultant, Kris Krane, during an interview with Boston.com.
Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) Oversees Cannabis in Boston, MA
When the recreational cannabis industry first kicked off in Massachusetts, everything was managed by the Department of Health. Then, in December, the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) started overseeing everything to do with the weed industry.
Adult-use cannabis companies need not be vertically integrated in order to operate legally in MA. Vertical integration means that dispensaries need to cultivate and process the plants that are sold to their customers. Conversely, vertical integration is a requirement for businesses involved with the state’s medical cannabis program.
Instead of introducing the same requirement for recreational cannabis companies, the CCC is licensing companies that exclusively cultivate, process and package cannabis products to be sold inside retail stores.
Cannabis Dispensaries in/near Boston are Expanding Statewide
A growing number of cannabis dispensaries are opening their doors in and near Boston as a way of meeting demand from consumers amidst the novelty of recreational sales. Numerous new dispensaries have been approved by the CCC since adult-use legalization rolled out in November.
Experts predict that the number of dispensaries operating statewide will be in the dozens by the end of 2019. If all goes as planned, customers won’t need to worry about queuing up to buy their bud. They will, however, be limited to buying no more than a single ounce of cannabis flower or a maximum of five grams of concentrate in a single visit.
Identification must be shown by all customers to ensure they are of legal age. The age requirement for consuming cannabis in Massachusetts is 21, but medical cannabis patients as young as 18 can legally apply for the program.
What About Social Cannabis Consumption Lounges in Boston?
There’s a lot of hype circulating the cannabis industry lately in regards to social consumption lounges. Don’t be fooled into thinking that Boston will be transformed into an Amsterdam-style tourist hotspot now that weed is legal. Based on a recent news reportpublished by the Boston Globe, it will likely be years until social consumption businesses – such as cafes and lounges – begin ushering in customers.
Currently, social cannabis consumption lounges are banned by by default at the local level. However, there’s a chance that cannabis cafes may be permitted if Bostoners petition to hold a referendum. In February of 2018, the CCC delayed the licensing of social consumption businesses, due to safety concerns from Gov. Charlie Baker.
Instead, the CCC will focus on Massachusetts’ adult-use cannabis industry and re-address the issue later in the year. Progress has already been made, what with the board approving a measure to establish a social consumption pilot program with local municipal leaders in October of last year.
Cannabis Industry Presents Employment & Investment Opportunities in Boston
As many as 211,00 Americans are working full-time in the legal weed industry, based on a 2019 report. With cannabis now legal for sale and consumption in the State of Massachusetts, more weed-related jobs are expected to emerge statewide. What’s more, the job opportunities are considerably diverse; ranging from cannabis culinary roles to budtender jobs and lab technician positions.
State law forbids individuals with past drug-related convictions from qualifying as job candidates. All hope is not lost however, because the CCC has developed mechanisms to ensure former felons don’t miss an opportunity to capitalize on the “Green Rush”.
For example, the CCC will speed up the application process for “economic empowerment” applicants, as well as for people who may be applying for a license in an area that maintain a prohibitionist stance on cannabis legalization. This is according to a report from MassLive.
Startups are sprouting up across Massachusetts, one of which is CannaKorp. Located in Stoneham, MA, the company is striving to alter consumer’s experiences using medical cannabis. Thus far, it has attracted has raised $3.8 million from 21 investorsand it hopes to raise $5.8 million.
Even Boston University is getting on-board, with the second annual Cannabis Startup Competition set to take place in November.
Investors are paying close attention to the cannabis startups in “Beantown”, many of whom wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity to yield generous returns from the nascent, yet flourishing cannabis industry.
“The landscape for investing in cannabis has changed over the past several years from HNW risk-taking investors to institutional investors both cannabis specific and special situation funds,” said the managing director of Boston-based hedge fund Dutchess Capital, Douglas Leighton. “More Institutional investors are becoming comfortable investing in the space and it will continue to proliferate as the legalization continues to sweep across the country.”
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