Massachusetts lawmakers have decided to push back the opening of recreational marijuana stores by six months, dealing a blow to the state’s adult-use industry and raising concerns about the possibility of additional delays going forward.
Under a legalization measure approved by residents last month, the first rec shops in Massachusetts were slated to open in January 2018.
But a handful of House and Senate lawmakers who showed up for informal sessions Wednesday voted to postpone the industry’s launch until June 2018.
Legislators said the decision gives the state more time to work through the complex process of setting up responsible regulations and licensing businesses.
Marijuana supporters, however, said the move flies in the face of democracy and could bolster the black market. Entrepreneurs hoping to get involved in the industry also will have to wait longer to open their businesses.
Some industry experts worry that anti-legalization officials in Massachusetts will use the uncertainty over how incoming President Donald Trump will approach marijuana as a reason to further delay or even prevent the start of adult-use sales.