Massachusetts’ marijuana chief predicts slow recreational rollout

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Massachusetts’ top marijuana regulator told reporters this week that the state likely would not meet a July 1 target date for the launch of its recreational marijuana program, and the rollout could prove more gradual than some in the state had hoped to see.

“There is nothing in the legislation about July 1, but I recognize it as an expectation of the public,” Stephen Hoffman, chair of the Bay State Cannabis Control Commission, told CBS Boston.

“So it’s going to roll out probably a little more slowly perhaps than people expected and I’m sorry that those expectations have not been met, but again, they’re expectations, not a legal requirement.”

So when will recreational marijuana go on sale in Massachusetts? A date can’t be predicted, but it could be a while, Hoffman said.

A big part of the slow rollout is that once completed applications have been conditionally reviewed by the commission, they must then receive final approval from the cities and towns where the businesses plan to locate.

The municipalities have 60 days to get back to the commission on whether they grant or don’t grant final approval.

Of the 53 complete applications that are ready for review, about a dozen are retail, Hoffman told the TV station.

He added he expected the commission to vote on three to six applications every week when things get rolling.

In related news, Massachusetts regulators did announce this week that the first cultivation license for the upcoming recreational marijuana program went to Milford-based Sira Naturals.