Long-simmering tensions between the activist and business wings of the Massachusetts marijuana community boiled over this week, after several medical dispensaries urged the state to grant them a significant head-start in the recreational market while delaying or limiting the licensure of less established players.
In a controversial memo submitted to the Cannabis Control Commission, the dispensaries argued the agency must divide implementation of the recreational industry into two phases if it hopes to meet an aggressive July 1 target date next year for the start of cannabis sales.
Under the dispensaries’ plan, the commission at first would incorporate many of the existing rules and systems for medical cannabis, giving them an early shot at selling recreational marijuana.
Meanwhile, the dispensaries want the state to put off licensing cooperatives of small-scale marijuana farmers and limit a program intended to boost minority participation in the industry.
Activists say the proposal would undermine a key provision in the new state law granting expedited licensing to companies that would promote economic empowerment of those arrested and incarcerated for marijuana offenses at disproportionately high rates—namely, minority and low-income communities.