Marijuana regulators are accepting public input on guidance meant to give businesses a sense of how the Cannabis Control Commission interprets legal limitations on ownership and control, an issue that has repeatedly cropped up as the young industry has taken root in Massachusetts.
The guidance document commissioners voted Thursday to put out for public comment is intended to address frequently asked questions and concerns about how the CCC defines direct and indirect control of marijuana business licenses as they relate to the legislatively mandated limits on the number of adult-use cannabis licenses that can be held by any one person or entity.
“While these matters have been addressed in multiple versions of the Commission’s regulations since 2018, the industry’s maturation and evolution has necessitated the need for additional guidance to help answer common questions concerning ownership and control,” the CCC said. “The draft guidance document … provides initial clarity around the Commission’s interpretation of these terms, and raises awareness around predatory lending practices, among other issues.”
In an attempt to ensure that large businesses do not crowd out smaller competitors in the state’s legal cannabis industry, Massachusetts law restricts licensees from holding more than three marijuana retailer licenses, three medical marijuana treatment center licenses, three marijuana product manufacturer licenses and three marijuana cultivator licenses. When the CCC last year created two new license types — delivery courier and delivery operator — it expanded the legislatively mandated ownership cap limits to include those license types.
A 2019 report in the Boston Globe revealed how some multi-state operators have employed loans and management contracts to essentially secure control over more cannabis licenses than allowed under Massachusetts law. In 2020, the CCC fined Acreage Holdings $250,000 for its attempts to control more dispensaries than allowed by law and TILT Holdings paid a $275,000 fine in 2021 to settle similar allegations.
The CCC will accept public comment on its guidance document until 5 p.m. on May 2. The commission asked that all comments be emailed to Commission@CCCMass.com with the subject line “Guidance on Control and Ownership: Public Comment.”