A marijuana cultivation farm requires the proper licenses
ComplianceSeptember 12, 2022

How to get a Massachusetts cannabis cultivation license

In 2016, Massachusetts legalized marijuana — the seventh state in the United States to do so. Before applying for a license to cultivate cannabis for medical- and recreational-use, businesses must complete go through a number of steps.

In this article, we answer frequently asked questions about how to get a Massachusetts cannabis cultivation license, the type of licenses that the state requires, and share other important information.

How does Massachusetts regulate cannabis businesses?

The Cannabis Control Commission regulates statewide medical-use and adult-use marijuana in Massachusetts. At the local level, cities and towns also have the authority to define how cannabis businesses operate and implement their own licensing process.

Another consideration for marijuana cultivation businesses are zoning laws. For instance, Massachusetts prohibits the cultivation of cannabis within 500 feet of a school.

Limits can also be placed on the number of facilities in a jurisdiction, and some cities and towns have banned adult-use marijuana facilities altogether.

What types of cultivation licenses does Massachusetts offer?

If you want to cultivate marijuana there are four licensing options, depending on whether you operate in the medical or recreational market and how you choose to operate your business.

Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (medical-use)

A Medical Marijuana Treatment Center is a business that cultivates, processes, and retails its own marijuana and marijuana products for medical use. A center can also deliver marijuana and marijuana products to registered qualifying patients. There is an application fee of $3,500 and $50,000 annual licensing fee.

Marijuana Cultivator (adult-use)

A cultivator business is licensed to cultivate, process, and package marijuana and transfer it to other marijuana establishments. Cultivators may select one of 11 tiers of operating space. The selected tier affects application and licensing fees.

  • Tier 1 (up to 5,000 sq. ft.)
    • Application fee: $200 (indoor), $100 (outdoor)
    • Annual license fee: $1,250 (indoor), $625 (outdoor)
  • Tier 11 (90,001 to 100,000 sq. ft.)
    • Application fee: $2,000 (indoor), $1,500 (outdoor)
    • Annual license fee: $50,000 (indoor), $25,000 (outdoor)

Craft Marijuana Cooperative (adult-use)

A cooperative is a type of marijuana cultivator in which growers join together to grow up to 100,000 square feet of cannabis plants among them. Cooperatives are composed of Massachusetts residents and organized as LLCs, LLPs, or cooperative corporations. Members cannot have a controlling interest in any other cannabis establishment. Fees vary based on the size of the cooperative, and additional fees are imposed for cooperatives with more than six locations.

Microbusiness (adult-use)

Microbusinesses are co-located marijuana businesses and can be either a tier one Marijuana Cultivator or Product Manufacturer, or both. A microbusiness that manufactures marijuana may purchase no more than 2,000 pounds of marijuana per year from other Marijuana Establishments. Executives and members must be residents of Massachusetts for no less than 12 months prior to the license application. Fees are set at 50% of the combined sum of the application and license fees for cultivation and/or manufacturing.

Note: Marijuana Treatment Center and recreational-use licenses expire one year from the date of issue.

What does the Massachusetts cannabis licensing process entail?

The cannabis licensing process varies based on municipality, license type, and other factors. Typically, once you’ve found a location, you can begin the process of getting approvals and applying for a license or permit through your city or town.

The first step in the process is to hold a community outreach meeting and provide information about the facility and its impacts to the neighborhood and community. You must also create a Host Community Agreement that identifies the stipulations and responsibilities of the municipality and your business.

Once the agreement is set up, you can begin the state licensing process with the Cannabis Control Commission.

Within 90 days of the application, the commission issues either a provisional license or rejection. It will also perform inspections and request background checks and fingerprints from all applicants listed on the license.

Next, a certification form is sent to the host municipality confirming your establishment complies with local codes and ordinances. Once completed, the commission will consider the application for a final license.

Before you open your business, an additional inspection will be conducted. Once the inspection report is rubber stamped, you will be notified that your establishment is permitted to commence operations.

Even after this final approval by the state, there may be additional registration or filing requirements with the town or city.

What are the Massachusetts cannabis licensing requirements?

When you apply for a license with the Cannabis Control Commission, you must provide information about your business, any individuals and entities associated with it, and demonstrate an understanding of the commission’s regulations specific to the license type, location, and scale.

This information can include:

  • Certificate of Good Standing: This is a document issued by the state that proves that your entity exists and is in compliance with all state requirements, such as filing annual reports and paying franchise taxes. The certificate must be dated no earlier than 90 days prior to the date of your application.
  • List of individuals and entities affiliated with the applicant
  • Financial information: If you’re applying for a Marijuana Treatment Center license, you must demonstrate capital resources of $500,000 on your first application and an additional $400,000 for the second and third applications.
  • Property interest documentation
  • Host Community Agreement certification
  • Community Outreach Meeting documentation
  • Description of plans to remain compliant with local ordinances
  • Positive impact plan: You must submit your plan to invest in people who have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition, specifically the five populations defined by the commission.
  • Diversity plan: You must provide the commission with a diversity plan “to promote equity among minorities, women, veterans, people with disabilities, and people of all gender identities and sexual orientation”.
  • Detailed business plan for the operation of the facility
  • Operational plan for the cultivation of marijuana
  • Plan for obtaining liability insurance that satisfies the regulatory requirements

CT Corporation can help

Outsourcing business registration and license research, applications, management, and renewals can help you take the pressure off internal resources. By working with a full-service management provider who specializes in the efficient processing of business licenses you can free up your time to focus on starting and growing your marijuana or cannabis cultivation business while ensuring you keep up with changing compliance requirements.

For more information on CT Corporation services and how we can streamline your business licensing, please contact us or call us at (844) 701-2064

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