Demand reflected in marijuana delivery applications

BOSTON — Since applications first became available three weeks ago to become a marijuana delivery operator in Massachusetts, interest in new business opportunities has been high, the head of the state’s cannabis regulatory agency said.

The new licenses available exclusively to participants in the Cannabis Control Commission’s social equity and economic empowerment programs allow the business owner to buy products wholesale from growers and manufacturers and deliver them to their own customers.

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More than 90 applications for pre-certification as a marijuana delivery operator have been opened since May 28 and at least 31 applications have been submitted for review, CCC Executive Director Shawn Collins told the commission Thursday.

“This is a new license type that was just introduced and it’s really exciting to see this pent-up demand that we thought was there as a hypothetical is really coming true,” Collins said.

The commission has also awarded one final license and seven provisional licenses for delivery-only businesses that can pick up the product from a licensed retailer and deliver it to a customer.

To be eligible over the next three years for a marijuana delivery operator license, applicants must be part of the CCC’s social equity or economic empowerment programs. The social equity program is designed to create pathways into the industry for individuals from communities most impacted by the war on drugs, marijuana prohibition, and high rates of incarceration for marijuana offenses.

Collins said the agency plans to open applications to be a part of the next cohort in the social equity program on June 21, with technical assistance and coursework beginning in the fall. Acceptance to the program qualifies individuals for fee waivers and exclusive licenses, such as delivery and social consumption licenses, if and when those become available.

Collins also told the commission that with Gov. Charlie Baker lifting the COVID-19 health emergency on June 15, curbside pick-up and telehealth certifications for new medical marijuana patients would also be expiring.

He said he extended both policies until Sept. 1 to allow for a transition but intends to let them expire unless the commission opts to permanently amend its regulations.

Community outreach meetings for application renewals will also be allowed to continue virtually through Sept. 1, and Collins said he anticipates extending that authorization through April 2022 to keep consistent with the new law Baker signed Wednesday related to virtual municipal meetings.