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Mass Sees 33% Increase In Cannabis Businesses Commencing Operations

A breakdown of the Massachusetts cannabis licensing landscape at this moment, with new businesses coming online every month

There has been a lot of buzz about failing Mass cannabis businesses on the increasingly crowded adult-use landscape. From articles about closures and rock-bottom prices in national news outlets, to operators teaming up to shame non-payers to save their own companies, biz health is already one of the big issues to emerge in 2024.

Part of that discussion involves recognition of the number of licenses already granted in the Bay State, as well as those stuck in the pipeline and others coming in the near and distant future.

At this Thursday’s meeting of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, Licensing Director Kyle Potvin started off his presentation of agency data with a breakdown of progress on the license-processing side. Highlights included: “0 applications awaiting first review; 12 applications awaiting supplemental review; 6 applications for Provisional License consideration; 7 licensees for Final License consideration.”

Potvin said that while some applications have come in since those tallies, it is nonetheless a “point of pride” to have such a manageable queue: “It’s come a long way from four or five years ago,” he said. “This is just a simple way of saying we are up to date and things are being turned around as efficiently as possible.”

As for industry-wide data—of the 1,539 applications that had been approved prior to Thursday’s meeting, 616 have commenced operations, marking a 33% increase over last year at this time.

“Speaking based on that percentage of increase,” Potvin said, “that number seems to be staying consistent between 33 and 36%, so that progress continues steadily, meaning that licensees are continuing to get to that stage on a regular basis after their inspections from our investigations and compliance officers.”

Data via Cannabis Control Commission

Those 616 licensees that have commenced operations break down as follows: Craft Marijuana Cooperative (0), Marijuana Courier License (10), Independent Testing Laboratory (16), Marijuana Cultivator (121), Marijuana Delivery Operator License (10), Marijuana Microbusiness (5), Marijuana Product Manufacturer (107), Marijuana Research Facility (0), Marijuana Retailer (338), Marijuana Transporter with Other Existing ME License (3), Microbusiness Delivery Endorsement (1), Third Party Transporter (5), Standards Laboratory (0).

At Thursday’s meeting, commissioners approved an additional six provisional licenses and seven new final licenses.

Members also discussed the next application window for a new Social Equity Program cohort. Those opportunities will attract additional prospective license holders. For reasons including an anticipated three-year exclusivity period on social consumption licenses once those regulations are written, Acting CCC Chair Ava Callender Concepcion said they are expecting “to see more people” than in previous years.

Regarding businesses that started operating at some point but have since closed their doors, the exact number is somewhat elusive, but in December the commission reported that 16 licenses which were greenlit to commence operations had become non-active. They included six cultivators, five product manufacturers, three retailers, and two couriers.