Cannabis in Massachusetts
Marijuana Venture’s ongoing series on every legal market in the United States explores the ever-changing rules and regulations, market trends, demographics, business leaders and more for each state that has legalized recreational marijuana. This month takes an in-depth look at Massachusetts, the first state on the East Coast to create an adult-use market.
Massachusetts was also the first state in the country to criminalize cannabis more than a century ago, but the perception of the “Indian hemp” has changed radically since then. In 1989, Boston advocates established the Boston Freedom Rally, one of the largest cannabis advocacy, education and culture events in the nation with tens of thousands of attendees flocking to the event on the third weekend of September annually.
Nearly 20 years later, the Bay State’s outlook on cannabis began to change rapidly, while politicians remained somewhat steadfast in opposition. Voters in 2008 decriminalized possession of up to an ounce for adults and replaced the criminal charges with a $100 civil fine. In 2012, voters approved the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative, allowing the formation of a medical market and 35 dispensaries, only to have it hamstrung by opposition which made if nearly impossible for dispensaries to open.
In 2016, 54% of voters approved the formation of an adult-use cannabis market, though Governor Charlie Baker increased the tax rate for cannabis and muddied regulations by creating a dual licensing process that requires authorization from both state and local authorities.
In June 2018, the state awarded its first cannabis cultivation license, and the market has been growing steadily, albeit, slowly, ever since.
Next month, Marijuana Venture will look at Michigan. For information about upcoming issues or to learn about advertising and sponsorship opportunities, email Editor@MarijuanaVenture.com.
A special thanks to all the sponsors who helped make this issue possible: Cannabis Connection, CannAssist, ELEVATE Northeast, Hempest and The High End.
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