Updated on August 7, 2020.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
What do you think of when you visualize Martha’s Vineyard? Wineries, mansions, celebrities, and beautiful beaches. But probably not medical marijuana. That’s changed as the Cannabis Control Commission has approved Patient Centric with a new business license.
The Martha’s Vineyard area hosts a fertile agricultural center. Landowners and government agencies were proactive in preserving land for cultivation. A difficult task considering the high demand for exclusive residential properties: but that is also part of what makes Martha’s Vineyard and the islander community unique.
It is that protectionism that made it very hard for Acreage Holdings to get approval for a new cannabis cultivation site in Martha’s Vineyard. And it’s been more than a battle. Acreage Holdings is the financial backer of Patient Centric dispensaries.
The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission Expressed Concern
The permits for the new Patient Centric cultivation site in Massachusetts was held up for months. But delays are nothing new for Patient Centric, who has been petitioning the MA Cannabis Control Commission for over seven years.
The location of the newly approved medical cannabis cultivation site in 510 State Road, in North Tisbury. Medical marijuana was proposed in 2012, but it has now taken eight years to support a cultivator on the island.
Like many states, Massachusetts requires vertical integration for medical cannabis businesses. That means each dispensary must cultivate, extract, process, and manufacture their MMJ products. Why did it take so long? The obstacle was federal prohibition versus state legalization. As an island, Massachusetts is surrounded by federal waters. That means it is a federal offense to bring cannabis into the state—a felony.
Massachusetts residents and voters helped legalize medical cannabis. Sales were slated to start in 2018. But there were no cultivators. Furthermore, how could cultivators import seeds and begin propagating cannabis crops for medical cannabis products? It was a checkmate situation between MA state and federal law.
Patient Centric Can Open Medical Cannabis Operations But Not Recreational
The newly licensed cultivator, processor, and dispensary Patient Centric have permission to provide medical cannabis even though Massachusetts has also legalized Adult-Use marijuana for residents over the age of 21 years.
How will the delay to recreational cannabis dispensaries play out for people who live in Massachusetts? Definitely a disappointment. However, state regulators want to launch services for medical marijuana and patients in need first. Learn and adapt to the medical marijuana program, and then initiate recreational cannabis sales. An approach that almost every state has adopted. Transitioning later to recreational marijuana as a separate industry.
Why would Massachusetts want to delay legalized Adult-Use or recreational weed? Doctor supervised medical marijuana programs have tighter controls. A board-certified physician must evaluate patients. They must be registered in the Massachusetts medical marijuana program. And registered patients must present a card to purchase cannabis. The annual renewal process also creates an extra level of safety. Patients must also have a health evaluation to renew.
The same checks and balances do not exist for the recreational cannabis industry. It can be harder to regulate vertical licensing when more “pot shops” open up. And isolating both the medical and recreational cannabis industries in Massachusetts from criminal influence is also a concern. It’s going to take resources, and the state needs time to put those laws and enforcement into place.
Acreage Holdings Force to Pay Fine for Multiple Business License Applications
Acreage Holdings is rapidly expanding in the medical cannabis industry. They are a multi-state operator. Acreage has developed in-house intellectual property developed in partnership with Canopy Growth Corporation. This includes these recognized brands and dispensaries:
On July 9, 2020, Acreage Holdings announced that the MA CCC granted provisional licenses for the sale of Adult-Use cannabis in Worcester and Shrewsbury. The recreational cannabis sales will be integrated with The Botanist dispensary in Worcester. A medical marijuana treatment center (MMTC) has been operating in Worcester, MA, since 2019. The growth plan is expected to add up to 40 new full-time jobs in the communities.
Acreage Holdings was required to pay a $250,000 fee to the Cannabis Control Commission Regulation Fund in MA. The payment was levied for terminated Management Services Agreements.