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Massachusetts pot shops are a billion-dollar market, but cannabis industry still faces hurdles

While recreational marijuana sales have soared in 2021 as Massachusetts emerges from the pandemic, business complications and governmental actions have slowed the pace of the industry’s growth, cannabis advocates say.

Massachusetts legalized marijuana in 2016, becoming the seventh state to do so, but only licensed sales in 2018.

“Right out of the gate, the Legislature delayed everything by six months to rewrite the initiatives,” said Jim Borghesani, the communications director of “Yes on 4” in 2016. Massachusetts was the only state to rewrite the law passed by voters on marijuana legalization.

“There’s just been a slower licensing process by the CCC (Cannabis Control Commission) than in other states and for no good reason,” said Borghesani.

The industry then hit major setbacks during the pandemic, such as the inclusion of cannabis retailers in Gov. Charlie Baker’s list of non-essential business closures in 2020. This upset many in the industry who were angry that they were forced to close when liquor stores were not.

“We should be treated exactly like a package store,” said public policy law attorney Jim Smith, who frequently represents cannabis clients. “In fact, our product is far less dangerous, far healthier, and less addictive than alcohol. It’s a clear double standard.” [Read more at Cape Cod Times]

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