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Marijuana shops could open in Mass. by early fall

A marijuana sample at the New England Cannabis Convention in Boston in March.
A marijuana sample at the New England Cannabis Convention in Boston in March.(Steven Senne/Associated Press/File)

Recreational marijuana stores could open in Massachusetts in “early fall,” according to state Cannabis Control Commission chairman Steve Hoffman.

The commission, which had initially aimed to have retail pot stores up and running by July 1, has issued provisional licenses to 30 existing medical marijuana facilities, including retail shops and cultivators.

To actually begin recreational operations, each facility must pass a thorough physical inspection and prove it complies with the state’s extensive regulations, including that all marijuana products have been tested by a licensed lab for purity and potency.

Hoffman told reporters at a commission meeting Thursday that representatives of three of the provisionally licensed facilities have indicated they are ready to be inspected.

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If those inspections are completed soon and the facilities pass, he added, it’s “quite possible” the agency may vote to issue the companies final licenses at its next meeting, scheduled for Sept. 20.

“We’re in the process of scheduling several final inspections,” Hoffman said. “My expectation is that they will happen shortly.”

However, Hoffman declined to pledge that stores would open by any particular date.

The commission has yet to issue a final license to a testing lab, making it doubtful that marijuana sales could begin immediately, even if retailers and their suppliers are ready to be inspected.

Meanwhile, the commission on Thursday approved draft regulations for the state’s medical marijuana program that is currently overseen by the state Department of Public Health.

Those rules will take effect before the end of the year, when under state law the commission must absorb the program.

Hoffman said his agency would do “everything possible to ensure there is no disruption” for registered medical marijuana patients during the transfer.


Dan Adams can be reached at daniel.adams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Adams86.