Pot notes: Everything but the labs
Also, cannabis commission unveils public awareness campaign, Worc. County maintains application lead
THE STATE CANNABIS Control Commission approved seven more provisional licenses for recreational marijuana, bringing the total to 19 retail stores, cultivation facilities, and manufacturers. But the commission still has not approved any license for a testing laboratory and, by law, nothing can be sold without the approval of a licensed lab.
Shawn Collins, executive director of the commission, said Thursday there are two “priority” applications from testing labs that he hopes to present to the board for provisional approval at the next meeting on August 23. Chairman Steven Hoffman said the board will move “quickly” to get the labs online but he declined to say what the timing would be.
But even if the commissioners vote in favor, there would still be background checks and reviews of the corporate principals as well as inspections that need to take place before final approval, processes that take weeks to a month. And then there needs to be time for testing the products before anything can be sold.
The first provisional license granted last month was to Cultivate, a Leicester dispensary. The owner had originally said he would be open in a “few weeks,” but later changed that to “realistically” after Labor Day. With no lab in sight, it could still be even longer.
The commission unveiled its first public awareness campaign aimed at preventing marijuana use by youths. The campaign, dubbed “More About Marijuana,” includes animated videos aimed at kids as well as one for adults for responsible use. They will play online as well as on television and radio. The effort will also include social media campaigns as well as billboards and placards on buses and outreach to parents.
The campaign received funding of about $300,000 from the Department of Public Health. The commission is required to fund such efforts through revenues it raises through taxes and fees on marijuana but Commissioner Jennifer Flanagan, who is spearheading the campaign, said the Baker administration has asked the Legislature to approve using $2 million that was earmarked for the commission in the last fiscal year but went unspent.
There are now 95 completed applications awaiting review by the commission staff and approval by the commission, including 28 applications for retail stores. In total, more than 2,200 applicants have started the cumbersome process.Worcester County continues to lead the state in completed applications with 29 businesses having submitted the required forms. Berkshire County has the second-most with 10 completed applications while Plymouth and Middlesex counties each have nine. There are only two in Suffolk County while there are none on the Cape or Islands.