Massachusetts Marijuana Cultivation License

Does Massachusetts Require Marijuana Growers to Obtain Cultivation License?

Yes. According to the Regulations on Adult Use of Marijuana (935 CMR 500.000), marijuana growers in Massachusetts are required to obtain licenses from the Cannabis Control Commission to legally cultivate the cannabis plant. A marijuana cultivator may cultivate, process, and package marijuana for transfer to other Marijuana Establishments (ME), but not directly to consumers.

Per Massachusetts law, the state establishes a buffer zone for MEs, including cultivation facilities, which requires that an ME entrance be not closer than 500 feet from the nearest school entrance unless a city or town adopts an ordinance or bylaw that reduces the distance requirement. The Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) describes a school entrance to mean the entrance(s) that provide ingress and egress to students of the preexisting public or private or private school providing education in kindergarten or any grades 1 through 12 at the time of the newspaper publication of the proposed Marijuana Establishment's community outreach meeting under 935 CMR 500.101(1)(a)9.a.

Note that the State of Massachusetts allows residents of the commonwealth to grow marijuana at home without having to obtain cannabis business licenses. However, there are certain restrictions on growing marijuana at home. These include:

  • Growers must be aged 21 or older
  • Growers cannot cultivate more than 6 plants in their primary residences. They must ensure to harvest their plants on cycles so that they never have more than 6 plants flowering at any time.
  • If more than one individual in their residences is aged 21 or older, the maximum number of plants allowed is 12.
  • If they are registered qualified patients of the Medical Use of Marijuana Program Online System (Online System), they are allowed to grow enough marijuana for a 60-day supply for personal, medical use. A 60-day supply is considered as enough to produce 10 ounces of usable marijuana.
  • If they rent their homes, the landlords are permitted to restrict cannabis cultivation.
  • The plants must be grown in areas that are equipped with locks or security devices
  • The plants must not be visible from public places without the use of binoculars, aircraft, or other optical aids
  • They are not permitted to grow marijuana or hemp at home using any liquid or gas other than alcohol with a flashpoint below 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

What Are the Different Types of Cultivation Licenses in Massachusetts?

Marijuana growers or cultivators are required to operate under a specific tier level based on the total canopy they intend to cultivate. According to the Massachusetts CCC, a canopy is defined as an area estimated in square feet and measured using clearly recognizable borders of all places that will contain mature plants at any point in time, including all spaces inside the limits.

While a canopy may be noncontiguous, each distinct area included in the total canopy calculations must be separated by an identifiable boundary. This boundary may include, but is not limited to, interior walls, shelves, greenhouse walls, hoop house walls, garden benches, hedgerows, fencing, garden beds, or garden plots. If mature plants are grown using a shelving system, the total canopy area must include the surface area of each level.

Cultivators must determine their tier by calculating the entire canopy area they will cultivate. The available marijuana cultivator tiers in Massachusetts are:

  • Tier 1: Less than 5,000 square feet
  • Tier 2: 5,001 - 10,000 square feet
  • Tier 3: 10,001 - 20,000 square feet
  • Tier 4: 20,001 - 30,000 square feet
  • Tier 5: 30,001 - 40,000 square feet
  • Tier 6: 40,001 - 50,000 square feet
  • Tier 7: 50,001 - 60,000 square feet
  • Tier 8: 60,001 - 70,000 square feet
  • Tier 9: 70,001 - 80,000 square feet
  • Tier 10: 80,001 - 90,000 square feet
  • Tier 11: 90,001 - 100,000 square feet

Massachusetts through the CCC also issues a separate type of marijuana cultivator license, called the craft marijuana cooperative license. A craft marijuana cooperative license allows the licensee to grow, acquire, manufacture, process, package, and brand marijuana and marijuana products for the purpose of transporting marijuana to MEs but not to consumers.

A Massachusetts craft marijuana cooperative is not limited to a particular number of cultivation locations but is limited to a total canopy size of 100,000 square feet and three locations for activities authorized for marijuana product manufacturers. A craft marijuana cooperative is required to operate in accordance with the 7 cooperative principles published by the International Cooperative Alliance in 1995. Craft marijuana cooperatives must also meet these requirements:

  • Residents of Massachusetts who have established a limited liability company, a limited liability partnership, or a cooperative corporation are eligible to participate.
  • A business may have no more than one license as a Craft Marijuana Cooperative.
  • Members of a Craft Marijuana Cooperative are prohibited from owning a controlling stake in another marijuana business.
  • A member of the Cooperative must have filed a Schedule F tax form in the last five years (stating agricultural revenue).

Who Can Grow Marijuana in Massachusetts?

Only persons 21 years of age or older may work on the premises of a marijuana establishment. This prohibition also extends to individuals working on other crops on the same premises. Persons with felony convictions, individuals who failed to register as sex offenders, anyone with a conviction or a continuance without finding (CWOF) for distributing controlled substances to minors are prohibited from working in marijuana cultivation facilities.

How to Get a Marijuana Cultivation License in Massachusetts

To become a marijuana cultivator licensee, the first step is to submit the license application fee and all 3 parts of the application in one package:

  • Application of Intent (AOI)
  • Background Check
  • Management and Operations Profile

Each part of the application requires applicants to submit accurate information about the cultivation business, individuals and entities connected to the cultivation business, and to show a working knowledge of the CCC’s rules applicable to the cannabis cultivation license, location, and size. Adult-use and medical-use license applications are largely identical, with the following sections highlighting the distinctions.

You may begin the application process by visiting the Massachusetts Cannabis Industry Portal (MassCIP) to begin the application process for a cultivator license. The following are the required information and documents under each section of the application:

APPLICATION OF INTENT

The Application of Intent (AOI) requires the applicant to disclose any individuals or organizations having direct or indirect control in their application for licensure. These categories specifically include any individual who owns a controlling interest in an applicant's indirect holding or parent company, the applicant's CEO, Executive Director, and any individual or entity in any position that may indirectly influence the decision-making process of the marijuana cultivation establishment.

An entity or person satisfying one or more of the following conditions:

  • An owner who has a financial stake in the marijuana growing business in the form of equity of 10% or more.

  • A person or organization with a voting stake of 10% or more in the marijuana growing facility or the ability to veto important occurrences.

  • An associate

  • A person or entity that has the right to control, through contract or otherwise, or authority, including but not limited A person or entity that has the right to control, through contract or otherwise, or authority, including but not limited to:

  • A person or entity that has the right to control, through contract or otherwise, or authority,including but not limited to:

    • making decisions about operations and strategic planning, capital allocations, acquisitions, and divestments
    • appointing more than half of the directors
    • appointing or removing corporate-level officers;
    • making major marketing, production, and financial decisions
    • executing significant or exclusive contracts
    • earning at least 10% of the profits or collecting over 10% of the dividends
  • a court appointee

  • a third-party technology platform provider that possesses a financial interest in a delivery licensee

  • Disclosure of In-state Interests: The applicant must include the names of any individuals or entities mentioned in the application who have interests in any other ME or MTC license application or are connected with any other current license in Massachusetts.

    The disclosure should contain any current information that is known to be accurate and truthful. This content should not be deceptive, misleading, untrue, or fraudulent, nor should it include any information that may deceive or create a false impression.

  • Disclosure of out-of-state Interests: Applicants must disclose and show evidence of any marijuana-related business interests that any person or organization included on their application has had or currently has in other states. They should use their best judgment to determine if they have any other business interests that are relevant to their application.

    A business license, articles of incorporation, bylaws, operating agreements, or an affidavit attesting to the correctness and authenticity of the disclosure may be required for this section.

  • Capital Resources: Applicants must disclose the amounts and sources of funding available to them from each person or entity contributing capital for the creation or operation of the designated establishment. Capital may come in the form of loans (monetary, real, or personal property) or equity stakes.

    Along with the disclosure, the applicant must submit proof of the capital's existence, which may include, but is not limited to, a bank or financial institution record dated within 60 days of the application submission date. If a person or organization contributes money in return for loan repayment, any written agreement governing the loan must also be included.

    If the person or organization supplying capital resources also has direct or indirect control, they must be named in the appropriate section. Following these disclosures and submission of this information, the applicant must declare that the funds used to invest in or finance the cultivation establishment were earned or obtained lawfully, as shown by an affidavit or notarized document. As part of its evaluation of the application or inspection of the licensee's operations, the CCC may require further information or proof to demonstrate the source of funds.

  • Bond or Escrow: All applicants must set money aside, either via a bond or an escrow account, to finance the dismantling and winding down of the cultivation establishment. The amount set aside must be adequate to cover the costs of paying any outstanding state or local sales tax obligations, securing the licensee's premises, and destroying the licensee's marijuana and marijuana product inventory.

    Even if the payments have been waived, and the applicant obtains a bond, they must set aside the full amount of their licensing fees as stated in 935 CMR 500.005 or 501.005,

    If the applicant obtains a bond, the bond should include the following information:

  • The Principal is the petitioner.

  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission is the obligee. Its address is 2 Washington Square, Worcester, MA 01604.

  • The bond is intended to cover any costs incurred by the Commission in satisfying any outstanding state and local sales tax obligations, in securing any licensed marijuana facility, in destroying the marijuana and marijuana products in the licensee's inventory, and in covering any other costs incurred by the Commission or its designee in dismantling or winding down the licensee's facility.

If the applicant opens an escrow account, it should show the following:

  • The only beneficiary is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, 2 Washington Square, Worcester, MA 01604

  • The bond is intended to cover any costs incurred by the Commission in satisfying any outstanding state and local sales tax obligations, in securing any licensed marijuana facility, in destroying the marijuana and marijuana products in the licensee's inventory, and in covering any other costs incurred by the Commission or its designee in dismantling or winding down the licensee's facility.

  • Property Identification and Interest Documentation: Each applicant must specify the intended location of their marijuana growing business. A licensee, with the exception of Craft Marijuana Cooperatives and MTC licensees, is restricted to operate from a single site. Following the identification of the proposed location(s) for operations, the applicant must provide proof of property interest, which may include one or more of the following:

    • a clear legal title to the proposed site
    • an option to purchase the site
    • documentation from the owner as evidence permitting the use of the premises
  • Host Community Agreement Certification: The applicant must provide a one-page certification signed by the contracting authority of the host community and the applicant attesting to the fact that they have completed a Host Community Agreement. A one-page certification form is available on the Commission's website. If the applicant plans to run several sites, each location must have its own certification form that meets the aforementioned criteria.

    Additional information on the legislation regulating Host Community Agreements may be found on the Commission's website.

  • Community Outreach Meeting Attestation and Documentation: The aim of the Community Outreach Meeting is to educate the public in the host community about the proposed cultivation establishment, offer information, and answer public queries. Because the Community Outreach Meeting is intended to assist shape the Host Community Agreement, it is highly recommended that it takes place before finalizing the Host Community Agreement.

    Each applicant must have a Community Outreach Meeting that meets the criteria outlined in the Cannabis Control Commission's Guidance for Licensure.

  • Plan to Remain Compliant with Local Ordinances: Each applicant must provide a description of the plans to ensure that the cultivation facility complies with any local regulations, ordinances, and bylaws regarding its physical location, which must include, but is not limited to, the identification of all local laws governing the sale of adult-use marijuana or medicinal marijuana.

    This plan should include any contacts with municipal agencies or authorities about local laws and permit needs. Furthermore, an applicant must provide the following information in their proposal:

  • Identification of the prospective address's suitable zoning district

  • Identification of the relevant permits that are needed, if any, as well as the time and frequency with which such licenses must be obtained and renewed.

  • Plan to Positively Impact Disproportionately Harmed People: A Plan to Positively Impact Disproportionately Harmed People will also be requested of applicants. This plan is a different requirement from the Diversity Plan. The Plan must be geared to have a beneficial effect on the Commission's designated categories of disproportionately affected individuals:

Application Fee: Each applicant will be required to pay the relevant application fee.

BACKGROUND CHECK

Applicants for marijuana cultivation licenses must include background disclosures and for all relevant persons in the business. Each person or organization mentioned in the AOI section must also be listed in the Background Check Section. Individuals and organizations on the list will be subjected to extensive background checks, and individuals will be fingerprinted.

  • Background Check Information: The CCC will determine the appropriateness for licensing of each person and organization mentioned on the application, based in part on the background checks. A background check will include, but will not be limited to, a review of:

    • Records from the Massachusetts and national crime databases
    • Civil database records for Massachusetts and the United States, including professional and occupational records
    • Other marijuana-related enterprises in which the person or organization is involved
    • Any action taken against the person or entity's license or registration

    Each individual and entity listed on the application must disclose actions in Massachusetts or another jurisdiction. These include:

    • Any criminal conduct, whether felony or misdemeanor, that results in a conviction, guilty plea, nolo contendere plea, or admission of sufficient facts

    • A civil action, particularly those involving a professional, vocational, or fraudulent activity.

    • Any administrative action, including those taken in connection with a medical marijuana or adult-use marijuana enterprise.

    • Any disciplinary action taken against the person or organization in any jurisdiction, such as suspension or revocation of a license, registration, or certification, including, but not limited to, a license to prescribe or distribute controlled drugs; and

    • A detailed explanation of any license denial

Any sealed or expunged convictions are not required to be provided.

  • Background Authorization Forms: An applicant for a marijuana cultivator license must submit three authorization forms and an unexpired government-issued photo ID card for each individual listed on the application:

    • CORI Acknowledgement Form: Complete the required fields of the "Subject Information" on page 2 before signing page 1. This form must be signed in the presence of a notary public. After examining at least one of the individual's government-issued identification documents, the notary public may complete the "Subject Verification" portion on page 2. This document is valid for a period of one year from the date of its initial signing.

    • Disclosure and Acknowledgement Form: Required individuals must print their names, sign, and date this page.

    • Release Authorization Form: Required individuals must complete all the fields on page one. However, page two must be notarized, while page one must be signed in front of a notary public. This document is valid for one year from the original signature date.

      After the completion of all forms, they should be returned to the applicant. The applicant may scan all of an individual's papers and ID cards into a single file, submit it to the application, and name it properly.

MANAGEMENT AND OPERATIONS PROFILE

This part gives the CCC an overview of the applicant's strategy for running the marijuana cultivation business. The information needed in this part indicates if the applicant knows the legal requirements to run a marijuana growing company, including the CCC's rules, and whether the applicant has plans that are unique to the cultivation license, location, and size. The information provided here will also indicate whether or not the application will be allowed to legally operate.

  • Business Information, Articles of Organization, and Bylaws: The applicant must show that the proposed establishment is registered in Massachusetts as a domestic business corporation or other domestic business organization. The necessary documentation must be in the name of the organization seeking licensing. Among these documents are:

    • Business name
    • Massachusetts Business Identification number
    • Articles of Organization
    • Bylaws (or the business’ operating agreement in cases of limited liability companies or other applicable entity structures)
    • Doing-business-as names
  • Certificates of Good Standing: The applicant must provide a certificate of good standing from each of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, the Department of Revenue, and the Department of Unemployment Assistance. All certifications must be dated within 90 days of the licensing application's submission. In order to register and obtain a certificate from the Department of Unemployment Assistance, the applicant must have employees.

    If an applicant does not have any employees, an attestation to that effect will be accepted in lieu of a certification of good standing from the Department of Unemployment Assistance. All papers must be signed in the name of the organization seeking licensing.

  • Business Plan, Liability Insurance Plan, and Proposed Timeline: A detailed business plan for the operation of the marijuana growing facility must be provided by the applicant. The plan should contain the applicant's official company name, doing-business-as name, and product branding name. Revenue and cost projections, a company overview, and an operational plan are all examples of information that may be included in a business plan.

    All applicants must provide a plan detailing their approach for obtaining regulatory-compliant liability insurance. Until they are licensed, applicants are not obliged to get insurance. However, each applicant must demonstrate in their plan that if licensed, they would get a policy with a minimum of $1 million per occurrence and $2 million in aggregate annual coverage for general liability and product liability. The deductible for each insurance cannot exceed $5,000 per occurrence.

    Each applicant must give an anticipated timeframe for the completion of the proposed marijuana growing business operation. The schedule should include information and anticipated dates for actions or events that will take place after the provisional license approval of the application. Timelines for the construction or refurbishment of a facility, for example, may contain dates for the installation of security and other equipment, the issuing of building or construction licenses, special approvals, the hiring of staff, and other milestones.

  • Summary of Operating Plans, Policies, and Procedures: The applicant must provide plans, policies, and procedures for the marijuana establishment's operation. These papers must be written in accordance with the CCC's rules and guidance materials. These documents include:

    • Security Plan
    • Prevention of Diversion Plan
    • Storage Plan
    • Transportation Plan
    • Inventory Plan
    • Quality Control and Testing Procedures
    • Personnel Policies
    • Recordkeeping Procedures
    • Maintenance of Financial Records
    • Detailed Description of Qualifications and Intended Training for Agents
    • Energy Compliance Plan
  • Diversity Plan: As part of their Management and Operations Profile, marijuana cultivator license applicants must submit a Diversity Plan. Diversity plans must be created to promote equality in the operation of the marijuana establishment for people of color, including Black, African American, Hispanic, Latinx, and Indigenous people, as well as women, veterans, persons with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ people. It should be noted that this plan is different and distinct from the Plan to Positively Impact Disproportionately Harmed People.

    This plan must include the objectives, programs, and metrics that the marijuana establishment will follow after it is temporarily licensed. All objectives must be tangible and measurable.

When the Commission receives a license application, it is examined to ensure that it complies with the Commission's rules. If any part of the application is determined to be in violation of the Commission's rules, the applicant will be sent a notice seeking further information, also known as an RFI. An RFI notification will contain a short narrative that describes any deficiencies or non-compliance issues that have been identified.

The applicant may resubmit the license application or relevant part after correcting any flaws and non-compliance problems and uploading all necessary papers and information. The Commission will examine the new information as soon as possible. If the application is now found to be in compliance with the Commission's regulations, it will be deemed complete; otherwise, a second RFI notice will be sent after a supplemental assessment.

When an application is completely submitted, it is placed in a queue for review depending on the date and time of submission as well as whether it is a priority, expedited, or general application. When the application is deemed complete, the CCC will notify the applicant. The following information will be included in the notice:

  • Payment instructions for background checks to be performed
  • Fingerprint instructions for all required individuals
  • Notification that the application, to the extent permitted by law, has been sent to the municipality (in which the cultivation facility will be located) requesting a response concerning the marijuana establishment’s compliance with local ordinances or bylaws within 60 days
  • Notification that the CCC will consider the application for a provisional license within 90 days.

If all information received from the applicant and the relevant authorities shows compliance with all relevant regulations, the application will be recommended for provisional licensure. For more information on license application and processing, contact the Cannabis Control Commission at (774) 415-0200 or Commission@CCCMass.com.

How Much Do Marijuana Cultivation Licenses Cost in Massachusetts?

The following are the application and annual license fees for marijuana cultivators in Massachusetts:

License Type (Indoor or Outdoor) Application Fee (Indoor (I) / Outdoor (O)) License Fee (Indoor (I) / Outdoor (O))
Tier 1: Less than 5,000 square feet $200 (I)/$100 (O) $1,250 (I)/$625 (O)
Tier 2: 5,001 - 10,000 sq. ft. $400 (I)/$200 (O) $2,500 (I)/$1,250 (O)
Tier 3: 10,001 - 20,000 sq. ft. $600 (I)/$300 (O) $5,000 (I)/$2,500 (O)
Tier 4: 20,001 - 30,000 sq. ft. $2,000 (I)/$1,500 (O) $20,000 (I)/$10,000 (O)
Tier 5: 30,001 - 40,000 sq. ft. $2,000 (I)/$1,500 (O) $22,500 (I)/$11,250 (O)
Tier 6: 40,001 - 50,000 sq. ft. $2,000 (I)/$1,500 (O) $25,000 (I)/$12,500 (O)
Tier 7: 50,001 - 60,000 sq. ft. $2,000 (I)/$1,500 (O) $30,000 (I)/$15,000 (O)
Tier 8: 60,001 - 70,000 sq. ft. $2,000 (I)/$1,500 (O) $35,000 (I)/$17,500 (O)
Tier 9: 70,001 - 80,000 sq. ft. $2,000 (I)/$1,500 (O) $40,000 (I)/$20,000 (O)
Tier 10: 80,001 - 90,000 sq. ft. $2,000 (I)/$1,500 (O) $45,000 (I)/$22,500 (O)
Tier 11: 90,001 - 100,000 sq. ft $2,000 (I)/$1,500 (O) $50,000 (I)/$25,000 (O)
Craft marijuana cooperative Total fees for its canopy. If more than 6 locations, add

$200 (I)/$100(O) per additional location.

Total fees for its canopy.

If more than 6 locations, add $1,250(I)/$625(O) per additional location


Application fees and license fees are non-refundable. Certain fees may be waived automatically for Economic Empowerment Priority Applicants (EE), Social Equity Program Participants (SEP), and Minority-, Women-, and Veteran-owned businesses (DBE) that meet certain eligibility criteria. DBEs must be certified by the Supplier Diversity Office, have completed certification, and qualify as Small Businesses before they can obtain fee waivers when applying for cultivator licenses. Massachusetts defines a Small Business as an applicant or licensee that has 50 or fewer full-time employees in all locations that work a combined total of no more than 2,600 hours per quarter and have gross revenues of less than $5 million per year.

In addition to the fees listed above, extra fees apply for:

  • Conducting background checks
  • and fingerprinting for individuals associated with the application
  • Metrc Program fees (monthly fee)
  • Metrc package and label tags (once licensed)
  • Application fees for registering and renewing agents (once licensed)

Can Licensed Marijuana Cultivators Hold Other Cannabis Licenses in Massachusetts?

Per the CCC guidelines for licensure in Massachusetts, no marijuana cultivator having direct or indirect control will be granted more than 100,000 square feet of canopy between the cultivator license and an MTC (Marijuana Treatment Center) license. No person or entity having direct or indirect control will be granted more than 3 cultivator licenses.

For craft marijuana cooperatives, no such licensee may hold more than one license. Members of craft marijuana cooperatives may not be persons or entities having direct or indirect control in any other Marijuana Establishments (MEs). However, that does not prohibit a craft marijuana cooperative licensee from applying for a marijuana retailer, existing licensee transporter, marijuana research, or social consumption establishment license.

Massachusetts Marijuana Cultivation License