State regulators on Thursday approved final licenses for four recreational marijuana stores, paving the way for shops to open in upcoming weeks once regulators complete their reviews and issue a notice allowing operations to start.
The Cannabis Control Commission issued licenses for two locations for Temescal Wellness — in Pittsfield and in Hudson — as well as for Northeast Alternatives in Fall River and Theory Wellness in Great Barrington.
“This is probably the type of volume we should expect to see going forward at every one of our biweekly meetings,” said the commission’s chairman, Steven Hoffman. Later, he added, “We can all take a deep breath and then get back to work because in 2019 the numbers will dramatically exceed what we [saw] in 2018.”
The four new final licenses came three weeks after the first two recreational stores opened, in Leicester and Northampton. They were the first in the Eastern United States. A third store, Alternative Therapies Group, is set to open in Salem on Saturday.
It took about seven weeks for New England Treatment Access in Northampton and Cultivate in Leicester, both formerly medical dispensaries, to open for recreational business after receiving final licenses. That timeline, however, could vary for other stores.
Before they can open, stores that have received final licenses must pass another inspection and show that their products have been tracked throughout their growth process and lab-tested for contaminants and potency.
Other recreational pot shops in Easthampton and Wareham have received final licenses and are undergoing final reviews before opening.
The commission also approved final licenses for two indoor cultivation sites and two product manufacturers.
Thursday’s votes were passed by four of the five commissioners, with Commissioner Shaleen Title abstaining because she objected to the organizations’ agreed-upon payments to towns or cities, which she believes exceed the law’s limits. The commission has declined to review such host community agreements, but Title has been outspoken on the issue, saying that excessive payments disadvantage applicants that are less well-heeled.
“On principle, I continue to abstain from votes on applicants who have signed host community agreements I believe go beyond the law, whether by 10K or 50K,” Title tweeted during a short break in the meeting. “But some are much better than others. I wish there were degrees of abstaining.”