A $40 Million Rush: 181 Applications Competing for 35 MA Dispensary Licenses

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By Anne Holland By the cut-off time at 3pm yesterday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health had received a grand total of 181 applications for the 35 dispensaries allowed under current MA law. This number is nearly double expectations, especially as each applicant had to include financial documents showing they have access to $500,000 for their first location and an additional $400,000 for a second location if desired.

MMJ Business Daily’s newly revised estimate for the MA medical cannabis marketplace is $20-$40 million per year with the strong possibility of growth beyond that. It is by far the largest Northeast market.

Although the application did allow for lines of credit as a form of financing, the likelihood of any formal financial institution agreeing to back an MMJ business is nil. So, these 181 applications have likely all been backed by private investors, despite the fact that in Massachusetts dispensaries are required to operate as non-profits and to ensure their revenues are used solely to further their non-profit purpose.

The state received applications for all 14 counties. However, populous Middlesex County with its 1.5 million residents accounted for 47 of them, equaling 26% of all applications. Suffolk, which includes Boston, received 21 applications. Even tiny Nantucket County with its 10,000 residents has two applicants. The complete list of applicants is available here.

Nearly a dozen of the applicants, such as Jayne Vining of The CAS Foundation and Joseph T. Mandile of Medical Remedies of New England, were seeking multiple locations.

By mid-September, the state is expected to announce which of the 181 applications have made it through Phase One. The state’s key factors in passing an application forward include verifying the financial backing, non-profit status, and executive backgrounds. Those who survive this screening process will have to pony up $30,000 for Phase Two of the application process, with no guarantee of being a final license winner.