The state of Massachusetts will legalize recreational marijuana starting on July 1st, but businesses looking to enter the industry know today is actually the big day.

Massachusetts began its program for licensing legal marijuana businesses today. The program is only open right now for businesses that qualify for expedited review, meaning they're already a legal medical marijuana business looking to convert to recreational or they are an "economic empowerment" applicant, meaning the business is either owned, employs or will benefit communities hurt by the War on Drugs.

Today is the first major milestone towards legalization. May 1st the state will begin receiving applications for marijuana cultivators, and on June 1st cannabis transportation companies can begin licensing. 

Many businesses believe that getting a license from the state isn't the hard part. The more difficult task will be getting approval from local governments. Before receiving a license from the state, companies must receive a location from that fits municipal zoning requirements, hold a public hearing and establish a "host community agreement" with local officials. Many believe getting local governments to work with marijuana businesses will be difficult, and that very few cannabis companies will actually be ready for recreational sales starting in July.

But, it's still an important milestone towards officially adding a new state to the list of recreational marijuana states.

(h/t Boston Globe)