Massachusetts “Cultivation License” Insight

August 3, 2021 Cannabis Business, Entrepreneurs, Investors

Anyone looking to grow recreational marijuana in MA will need a Massachusetts cultivation license. But what’s involved here?

You’ve seen it done, and you’ve seen the success marijuana establishments have operating in the Massachusetts marijuana space. But how can you get a Massachusetts cannabis cultivation license?

Whether you want to grow medical cannabis or recreational marijuana, your journey will begin with the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.

Interested in assistance establishing your legal Massachusetts cannabis grow operation? Northstar has you covered!

Contact us now to speak with one of our experts about starting and scaling your cannabis business in accordance with Massachusetts cannabis laws.

massachusetts cannabis control commission

Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission

Whether you need a Massachusetts marijuana cultivation license or plan to operate a medical marijuana treatment center, all cannabis industry operations in this state must go through the Massachusetts CCC.

The Cannabis Control Commission of Massachusetts is the regulatory authority in this state. Marijuana business licenses, including licenses to transport marijuana, operate a registered marijuana dispensary, package marijuana, and more. Basically, if you’re interested in establishing a marijuana establishment, you’ll need to do so through the CCC.

This, of course, includes cultivation operations for the state’s cannabis industry.

Who Does the CCC Serve?

The Commission serves concerned citizens, health care providers, patients, caregivers, constituencies, and partners. Through the commission, these people get protection and considerations in accordance with the state’s requirements for medical and recreational cannabis.

This Commission ensures marijuana products are safe by providing regulations for every marijuana product manufacturer to follow. All marijuana sold in the state has to follow compliance, meaning every marijuana product manufacturer has guidelines, regardless of whether the cannabis is grown for adult use or medical use.

marijuana dispensary massachusetts

Becoming a Registered Marijuana Dispensary Grower in MA

Unlicensed marijuana establishments must become part of the state’s regulated marijuana industry as soon as possible. While operating outside of the rules might save some cash at first, the risks are not worth the reward for most cannabis business owners.

Here’s a bit more about the licensing process for Marijuana Establishments (MEs) and Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MTCs) in Massachusetts:

Step 1: Research Laws

Perform a search for the laws and regulations that govern medical marijuana and recreational cannabis in the city or town you plan to operate.

Keep in mind, depending on the municipality, you may have to take some additional steps before you submit an application for a cultivation license to the Commission. It’s a good idea to contact the municipality directly to learn more about the requirements to open a Marijuana Establishment in the area.

Step 2: Plan Your Business

At this stage, it’s time to research and write out a business plan for your operations. Whether you plan to sell marijuana or transfer marijuana in some other way, you’ll need a marijuana business license from the Commission. Thus, you’ll need a plan compliant with adult-use or medical-use regulations when you submit your application.

Minimally speaking your plan should include: a business plan, security plan, plan for positive impact, diversity plan, and a plan to comply with all local codes and ordinances.

Step 3: Organize Your Information

Applicants must supply information about the people and entities that will be listed on their marijuana business licenses. Since they will have control over the business, this information must be part of the application.

Step 4: Have a Community Outreach Meeting & Sign a Host Community Agreement

You’ll need to work with the municipality you plan to operate in on a Host Community Agreement, which means you’ll have to host a Community Outreach Meeting.

Submitting evidence that you have this meeting and that you’ve filled out and signed a Host Community Agreement with the municipality is a requirement during the application process.

Step 5: Submit Your Application to the Commission

You’re now ready to submit your application online. This should include your applicable license and background check fees.

To do this, applicants must visit the Massachusetts Cannabis Industry Portal (MassCIP) to start the process to apply for their marijuana business licenses.

Step 6: Wait on Approval

Application reviews by the Commission occur on the priority status and the day it was submitted. After the Commission reviews an application, applicants can expect an email notification.

The Commission issues either a provisional license or rejection within 90 days of license application.

The review process involves the Commission performing inspections and requesting background checks and fingerprinting are done for everyone listed on the cannabis business license.

Once approved, the Commission will send a certification form to the host municipality to confirm that the marijuana business complies with local codes and ordinances.

After completing these steps, the Commission considers applications for final licensure.

Step 7: The Final Inspection

Before your adult-use cannabis grow operation can become fully licensed, you’ll have one last inspection.

After a review of the inspection report, you can become a legal marijuana cultivator once you receive a notification that says you can begin operating as a cultivation facility producer of cannabis.

Additional Insight for Cannabis Businesses grow operation massachusetts

Additional Insight for Cannabis Businesses

Massachusetts marijuana laws demand that the adult-use cannabis industry participants obtain licensure.

Regardless of whether you manufacture marijuana products, operate marijuana cafes, are a marijuana retailer, sell edible cannabis, or something else, you’ll need the appropriate cannabis licenses for your operation’s activities.

Massachusetts Marijuana Taxes

While marijuana prohibition has been lifting in the state, Massachusetts marijuana and medical cannabis operations will need to pay taxes.

The state retail excise tax is 10.75% imposed on retail marijuana sales. Sales tax is 6.25% on retail purchases of marijuana and marijuana products. However, it’s also important to consider the local excise tax on retail purchases.

The state does not have a wholesale tax, cultivator tax, or medical tax, making it an excellent opportunity for growers looking to break into this industry.

How many cultivation licenses are there in MA?

While a Craft Marijuana Cooperative is limited to one license, the state does not restrict how many cultivation locations a cooperative can operate in. Thus, a Craft Marijuana Cooperative is allowed to cultivate up to 100,000 square feet of canopy across multiple locations.

However, equally important to note is that additional application and licensing fees are essential for each location you operate beyond six locations.

How do you get a grow license in Massachusetts?

Understanding how to get a grow license in Massachusetts means knowing about commercial grower licensing regulations in the state. Cannabusiness licensing structure in Massachusetts demands vertical integration. thus, as a license holder, you’ll need to handle the cultivation, manufacturing, and sales.

How much does it cost to get a cultivation license in Massachusetts?

Cultivation licenses come in multiple tiers, and each comes with its own set of fees that depend on if the grow is indoors or outdoors. Indoor cultivation license fees cost between $200 and $600. However, outdoor cultivation license fees cost from $100 to $300.

Anyone approved will need to pay a license fee costing $625 to $12,500 for their indoor cultivation license or $1,250 to $25,000 if they seek an outdoor cultivation license.

How many plants can you grow with a medical card in Massachusetts?

Not every marijuana cultivator in MA needs a license or a limited liability company. Some want to grow for personal use to supplement the medical marijuana products they purchase – or replace them entirely.

There’s no annual license fee for growing personal medical marijuana plants under the state’s Compassionate Medical Marijuana Program (up to six plants, to be exact). But growing Massachusetts marijuana for dispensary operations and other marijuana establishments will require cultivation registration, which includes an application fee. Each of these fees cost $50.

Other fees besides the application fee include the licensing fee, which is also $50, name change fee for $100, location change fee for 50% of the applicable license fee, change in building structure fee for $500, and change in ownership or control fee for $500.

Background checks cost significantly more than the application fee, too. This costs $400 per individual.

What is the craft marijuana cooperative license in MA?

A craft marijuana cooperative means the growers involved are residents of the Commonwealth and have a limited liability company, LLP, or a cooperative corporation under the Commonwealth laws.

A cooperative is licensed for cultivation, purchasing, manufacturing, processing, packaging, and branding marijuana. Delivery services can also fall under the cooperative license. These state-licensed businesses must pay an application fee and a license fee, among other costs.

As a cultivator of Massachusetts medical marijuana or adult-use cannabis, plant tagging is essential. Plant tags cost 45 cents apiece, and packaging tags cost 25 cents apiece.

Cooperatives include the operations composed of marijuana product manufacturers, those that brand cannabis, initiate cannabis sales, and any other Marijuana Establishment involved in Massachusetts medical marijuana and recreational cannabis supplies, growth, and product manufacturing.

The state requires Massachusetts residents involved in a cooperative to follow these seven cooperative principles:

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership
  2. Democratic Member Control
  3. Member Economic Participation
  4. Autonomy and Independence
  5. Education, Training, and Information
  6. Co-operation among Co-operatives
  7. Concern for Community

Equally important to know is how expansions and reductions work. Cultivators and cooperatives need to apply in order to change their classification when they go to renew their license or six months following its initial license issuance or license renewal. Application fees do not get refunded if you opt for a reduction.

However, if you’re going for an expansion, you’ll have to pay the additional fee. For expansion purposes, licensees also have to show that 85% of the production was sold consistently over the previous six months before the application to expand production.

Relegation from the Commission

Production over the six months before applying for renewal is taken into consideration by the Commission. With this in mind, the Commission might relegate a grower’s tier based on this production.

The Commission has the right to lessen the licensee’s maximum canopy to a lower tier if the licensee couldn’t sell 70% or more of what they produce. However, the Commission will also consider the cultivation history of the operation, including:

  1. Catastrophic events that impacted production
  2. Transfers, sales, and excise tax payment history
  3. Inventory history, sales contracts, and existing inventory
  4. Other factors that could have impacted responsible inventory, production, and cultivation management

massachusetts cannabis cultivator tending to crop

Other MA Recreational Marijuana Grower Insight

Keep in mind, the Environmental Protection Agency bans registered pesticide use on marijuana and hemp.

Equally important to know is that the only people allowed to work on the premises of marijuana establishments are those who are 21 years of age or older. This also extends to the people who work on other crops grown at on the same premises.

As the operator of a marijuana facility, you can submit alternate security provisions to the Commission.

Once this is done, the Commission submits the entity’s request to the chief law enforcement officer in the host community and requests the officer review it and respond within 30 days. Then, it’s up to the officer to certify that the alternate provisions are enough or offer an explanation for why the proposals are lacking.

Looking to Grow Recreational Marijuana in Massachusetts

Looking to Grow Recreational Marijuana in Massachusetts?

Interested in scaling your cultivation operation in MA? Our experts can help!

Contact us today to learn how we can grow your budding business in Massachusetts.