Massachusetts Just Missed The Deadline To Open Recreational Cannabis Dispensaries

Massachusetts legalized recreational marijuana in 2016, but you still can't legally buy it anywhere in the Bay State because regulators missed the July 1 deadline to launch the retail market.

Recreational sales were expected to go live yesterday in Massachusetts, but the new industry continues to face setbacks. And there's no word on when stores will actually be up and running.

As Cannabis Control Commission Chairman Steven Hoffman said, the July 1 date was an "arbitrary deadline." In fact July 1 doesn't appear in the Massachusetts cannabis laws at all, only June 1 does, as the day the state would be be allowed to begin licensing. As for now, Hoffman isn't offering a day that people can be expecting cannabis retail to begin.

"There are too many moving parts. I'm not making a forecast," he said recently.

And it seems that those moving parts are part of the problem with bring cannabis to market. As each individual town and city can set their own cannabis regulations, and even implement straight up bans, businesses have to navigate a complex system of varying zoning bylaws, landlord-tenant relations and bank regulations.

It seems unlikely that neither Vermont or Massachusetts will be able to successfully squash the black market without improving ease of access and providing consumers with safe, regulated channels to buy their cannabis. Massachusetts is likely to get things sorted out relatively quickly however, as already established medical dispensaries could begin reviving recreational licenses in the coming weeks.

But on the bright side, the absence of recreational cannabis dispensaries doesn't mean you can't smoke a j in the Bay State. Massachusetts residents have been able to legally consume and have up to one ounce of cannabis on their person since December of 2016 - one month after local voters approved legalization.

People in Massachusetts can also keep up to 10 ounces in their homes and grow up 6 cannabis plants. Adults 21 and over can smoke or vape cannabis in a private residence and edibles are A-OK, too. 

So while news that marijuana retailers won't open for the foreseeable future is disappointing, at least Massachusettsians can have a puff to pick themselves up.  

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President Trump's 2020 budget request includes a loophole that would let Washington, DC finally open up dispensaries for recreational cannabis. Although DC voters passed a ballot initiative to legalize recreational cannabis back in 2014, Congress has used its power over the nation's capital to prevent it from selling cannabis for recreational use. Right now, local dispensaries can only sell medical marijuana to registered patients thanks to Congress, which controls spending in the District of Columbia.

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