The path to cannabis legalization in Massachusetts has been a long and winding road, but in a few weeks' time, it might finally be over.
Although voters approved a ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016, the implementation of the new law has hit several roadblocks over the last two years. But this Thursday could change that, as the state's Cannabis Control Commission is set to vote on the first licenses for recreational retailers. The prospective pot shops are Cultivate in Leicester and New England Treatment Access (NETA) in Northampton.
But even if the vote goes their way, it will still take weeks before either is ready to sell cannabis in Massachusetts.
"I don't want people to think that since the meeting is Thursday, we'll be open Friday," Norton Arbeláez - NETA's Director of Government Affairs - told the Boston Globe. He added that the state has yet to give final approval to any cannabis testing labs, which will cause further delays since every bud has to be inspected to test its potency and screen for contamination before it hits the shelves.
So if the licenses are approved, the new stores still won't have any product to sell until the CCC approves a testing facility.
"We would hope that they get that on the calendar soon," Arbeláez said.
But he shouldn't hold his breath. The state had initially set July 1, 2018 as the day retailers could begin to sell cannabis. However, that deadline was missed and the new industry has been living in limbo ever since.