Dispensaries in Massachusetts: What Should Operators Know?

February 27, 2022 Uncategorized

Dispensaries in Massachusetts are a great place to find high-quality cannabis products. But what should you know about these legal cannabis operations?

In this post, we cover everything you might want to know about opening and operating dispensaries in Massachusetts. Keep reading to learn more about Massachusetts dispensary operations.

Looking to structure or scale a dispensary in Massachusetts? Northstar is ready to help!

Contact us now to speak with one of our experts about how we’ll grow your Massachusetts dispensary with financial reporting and data.

Dispensaries in Massachusetts

How to Open a Marijuana Dispensary in Massachusetts

As the first east coast state to permit recreational marijuana businesses, Massachusetts has been a true pioneer in this emerging marketplace. Before legalization, the state’s government only permitted medical marijuana from nonprofit dispensaries fondly known as Registered Marijuana Dispensaries, or RMD’s.

For adults who don’t have any felonies related to prohibited substances, starting a cannabis business in Massachusetts is an option. You’re allowed to open a dispensary, marijuana product manufacturer, marijuana cultivation operation, run a marijuana lab focused on testing, or open an RMD.

Massachusetts’s cannabis laws regulate legal cannabis operations. However, now that the application processes for cannabis businesses in this state are in place, ganjapreneurs interested in creating a compliant cannabiz can do so.

But first, you’ll need to understand the laws.

Massachusetts Marijuana Laws

While federal law still prohibits marijuana, states are allowed to make their own rules for decriminalizing and legalizing these products. These are Massachusetts cannabis laws in place:

  • Question 3 – This law was put in place in 2012. It made the medical marijuana program for state residents.
  • Chapter 369 – This highlights the compliance demands and regulations marijuana businesses must adhere to if they want to maintain their legitimate operations in the state.
  • Section 935 CMR 500.00 highlights adult marijuana consumption.
  • Section 935 CMR 501.00 highlights medical marijuana consumption.
  • Section 935 CMR 502.00 outlines marijuana operations.

Massachusetts Cannabis Consumer Regulations

  • Dispensaries in Massachusetts cannot sell to anyone under 21 years of age
  • MA dispensaries have to check customers for a government-issued current passport or ID
  • Medical purchases are only allowed for patients who have a state-issued permit for medicinal marijuana

Massachusetts Marijuana Sale Regulations

All sales must be tracked and there are limitations regarding how much marijuana or marijuana products retail operations can distribute to a customer in a single day. The rules are as follows:

  • Customers are allowed to have up to 10 ounces of cannabis at home. However, they’re only allowed to buy one ounce per day from a dispensary.
  • Customers are permitted to have up to six plants per person at their residence. However, they can only buy up to six plants per purchase.

Customers are not allowed to smoke, eat, or consume alcohol while visiting dispensaries.

Massachusetts Marijuana Permits & Licensing

Cannabis businesses in Massachusetts must renew their licenses annually. Application fees are applicable once if approved. However, if the company is denied a license, it must pay the application fee a second time.

Registered Marijuana Dispensary (RMD) License:

  • The application fee is $1,500
  • Management and operation profile is $30,000

Retail Stores & Dispensaries:

  • The application fee is $300
  • Retail store license is $5,000

Cultivation Business Licensing:

  • Application fee costs between $100 and $600
  • License for cultivation operation costs between $625 and $12,500

Marijuana Manufacturing Business Licensing:

  • The application fee is $300
  • License for marijuana manufacturing in MA costs $5,000

Massachusetts Cannabis Taxes

Retail tax on marijuana sales is collected by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. At this point, marijuana is generating more tax than alcohol.

Massachusetts cannabis taxes include an excise tax of 10.75% on the projected price of recreational cannabis, along with a 6.25% state sales tax. There’s also a local tax of up to 3% involved in retail marijuana sales.

In 2021 alone, the state collected beyond $112 million in excise tax from adult-use marijuana sales. This was over 200% higher than the state projected.

Cost to Open a Dispensary in Massachusetts

The cost to open a dispensary in Massachusetts is relatively reasonable. However, the startup costs involved can range from $325,000 to $1.13 million. This all depends on the build-out costs though.

Massachusetts Cannabis Advertising Regulations

  • Marketing cannot “jeopardize public health.” This means that the marketing or samples programs cannot target minors or child-related endeavors.
  • The CCC permits company brand and logos on cannabis products in Massachusetts. However, the packaging and signs are not allowed to have medical symbols or images of marijuana-related items or the marijuana itself.
  • Marijuana-related slang like “weed” or “ganja” is not allowed.
  • Marijuana and marijuana product displays must explain the products accurately.

Massachusetts Marijuana Packaging and Label Regulations

Marijuana packaging and labeling laws in Massachusetts are essential to follow for compliance. Here’s a list of the CCC’s regulations:

  • All marijuana products in Massachusetts must have warnings regarding impairment, driving or operating machinery dangers, health risks, habit-forming risks, risks involving consumption while pregnant, and the adult consumption age limit.
  • Massachusetts marijuana products must be packaged in child-resistant packaging.
  • The packaging for cannabis products in MA is not allowed to appeal to minors.
  • Marijuana packaging should show how many servings are included in the package.
  • The packaging needs to have a statement that says the product has not been approved or analyzed by the Food and Drug Administration.

Massachusetts Government Agencies and Cannabis Organizations to Know

Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) – in charge of all recreational marijuana regulations

Phone number: 617-701-8400

Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality (BHCSQ) – handles all medical marijuana regulations and programs

Phone number: 617-753-8000

Medical Use Marijuana Program

Phone number: 833-869-6820

Steps to Open a Dispensary in Massachusetts

The application process for opening a dispensary in Massachusetts includes the following:

  1. Check the laws and regulations in your county or city
  2. Make a business plan for your dispensary
  3. Find investors and capital to start your dispensary as this is usually quite regulated
  4. Decide on company partners
  5. Decide on corporate structure
  6. Apply for the licenses and registration.
  7. Handle your license fees and pay for background checks
  8. Find the location for your dispensary
  9. Build a team. Everyone involved in your operation must be able to pass a background check.
  10. Find cultivators or manufacturers to build a product selection, unless you plan to apply for a license that will allow you to grow or create them on-site.
  11. Open your Massachusetts dispensary’s doors!

Closing on Dispensaries in Massachusetts

Since the approval of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts, the state has been slowly shutting down dispensaries that were not compliant with state regulations. But equally important to know is that the state still allows new dispensaries to open!

As the emerging legal cannabis marketplace in Massachusetts continues its expansion, it is important for business owners to be aware of the laws and regulations that govern the industry. Failure to do so can result in costly penalties, including the closure of your business.

Operating a dispensary in Massachusetts and looking to scale? Northstar is ready to help!

Contact us now to speak with one of our experts about how we’ll structure and organize your operation to facilitate growth.