Does Massachusetts Require a Marijuana Manufacturing License to Make Cannabis Products?
Yes. Per Massachusetts Regulations on Adult Use of Marijuana (935 CMR 500.000), persons or entities interested in compounding, blending, extracting, infusing, or otherwise making or preparing marijuana products must obtain marijuana product manufacturer licenses. In Massachusetts, a marijuana product manufacturer license entitles the licensee to obtain, manufacture, process, and package marijuana and marijuana products, transport marijuana and marijuana products to Marijuana Establishments (MEs), and transfer marijuana and marijuana products to other MEs, but not to consumers.
Does Massachusetts Require Licensed Cannabis Manufacturers to Have Cultivation Licenses?
No. Massachusetts licensed cannabis manufacturers are not required to obtain cultivation licenses. Cannabis and cannabis products used in the manufacturing process must be obtained from licensed Marijuana Establishments.
How Does Massachusetts Classify Marijuana Manufacturing Licenses?
Unlike in some states in the United States where manufacturing licenses are classified in terms of chemicals used for extraction or the activities performed, Massachusetts makes no such distinctions in its marijuana manufacturing license.
What are the Different Types of Cannabis Manufacturing Licenses in Massachusetts?
There is only one manufacturing license issued by the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), called the marijuana product manufacturer license. Guidelines for the scope of operations of the marijuana product manufacturer license are contained in the Regulations for Adult Use Marijuana 935 CMR 500.000.
Does Massachusetts Require a Separate License to Manufacture Edibles?
No. No separate license is required to legally manufacture marijuana edibles in Massachusetts apart from the marijuana product manufacturer license. Edibles means marijuana products that may be consumed by humans through eating or drinking. These products, when created or sold by a Marijuana Establishment in Massachusetts may not be considered foods or drugs as defined in M.G.L. c. 94, § 1.
How to Get a Cannabis Manufacturing License in Massachusetts
To apply for a license as a marijuana product manufacturer, the first step is to submit the license application fee and all three application components in one package:
- Application of Intent
- Background Check
- Management and Operations Profile
You may start the application process by visiting the Massachusetts Cannabis Industry Portal (MassCIP) to begin the application process for a manufacturing 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 exercising direct or indirect interests over the proposed establishment in their application for licensure. These categories include any individual who owns a controlling interest in an applicant's indirect holding or parent company, the applicant's chief executive officer and executive director, as well as any individual or entity in a position to indirectly influence a marijuana manufacturing establishment's decision-making.
A person or entity with direct control satisfies one or more of the following criteria:
- An owner who has a financial stake in the marijuana manufacturing 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 manufacturing 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 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 officials;
- making major production, marketing, and financial decisions
- executing significant or exclusive contracts
- earning at least 10% of the profits or collecting more than 10% of the dividends
- a court appointee
- a third-party technology provider having a financial interest in a delivery licensee
- Disclosure of In-state Interests: Applicants must state if any of the individuals or entities mentioned in the application have been revealed in any other ME or MTC license application, or are connected with any other current license. \
All current information that is known to be accurate and true should be included in the disclosure. This material should not be deceptive, misleading, untrue, fraudulent, or include any information that has the potential to deceive or give a false impression.
- Disclosure of out-of-state Interests: Applicants must declare if any person or organization mentioned on their applications has had or currently has marijuana-related commercial interests in other states, as well as provide proof of such interests. They should exercise their judgment in determining whether they have any additional business interests that are relevant to their application. \
The paperwork needed for this part may include a business license, articles of incorporation, bylaws, operating agreements, or an affidavit attesting to the accuracy and truthfulness of the disclosure.
- Capital Resources: Applicants must declare the amounts and sources of capital available to them from each person or organization providing capital to create or run the marijuana manufacturing establishment. Capital may take the form of loans (monetary, real, or personal property) or equity interests. \
The applicant must provide the name, address, and contact information of each person or organization, as well as the amount and source of money that will be supplied. Along with the disclosure, the applicant must provide evidence confirming the existence of the capital, 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 provides capital resources in exchange for loan repayment, any formal agreement regulating the loan must also be supplied. \
If the person or entity providing capital resources is also a person or entity having direct or indirect control, they must be mentioned in the relevant area. After making these disclosures and submitting this information, the applicant must declare that the funds used to invest in or finance the marijuana manufacturing establishment were earned or acquired legally, which may be shown via an affidavit or notarized document. The CCC may request additional information or evidence to show the source of funds as part of its assessment of the application or inspection of the licensee's activities.
- Bond or Escrow: All applicants must put aside a sum of money adequate to fund the dismantling and winding down of the marijuana manufacturing establishment, either via a bond or an escrow account. The sum put aside must be sufficient to cover the expense of paying any outstanding state or local sales tax obligations, the cost of securing the licensee's premises, and the cost of destroying the licensee's inventory of marijuana and marijuana products. \
If the applicant obtains a bond, they must put aside the entire amount of their license costs as specified in 935 CMR 500.005 or 501.005, even if the payments have been waived. 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 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 application is required to identify the planned site of their marijuana manufacturing operation. After identifying the proposed location(s) for operations, the applicant is required to submit evidence of property interest, which may include one 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 site
- Host Community Agreement Certification: Each applicant must upload a one-page certification signed by the host community's contracting authorities and the applicant attesting to the fact that they have executed a Host Community Agreement. The Commission's website includes a one-page certification form. If the applicant intends to operate multiple locations, a separate certification form meeting the above requirements is required for each location. \
The Commission's website contains additional guidance on the laws governing Host Community Agreements. A Host Community Agreement will not be accepted instead of the single-page certification form.
- Community Outreach Meeting Attestation and Documentation: The Community Outreach Meeting's goal is to educate the public in the host community about the planned marijuana manufacturing establishment, provide information, and answer questions from the public. It is highly recommended that the Community Outreach Meeting take place prior to completing a Host Community Agreement, considering that the meeting is meant to help inform the Host Community Agreement. \
An applicant must conduct a Community Outreach Meeting that complies with the requirements stated in the Guidance of Licensure published by the Cannabis Control Commission.
- Plan to Remain Compliant with Local Ordinances: Each applicant must provide a description of the plans to ensure that the manufacturing establishment is or will comply with any local regulations, ordinances, and bylaws regarding its physical location, which must include, but not limited to the identification of all local laws governing the sale of adult-use marijuana or medicinal marijuana. \
This plan must include all interactions with municipal agencies or authorities concerning local laws and requirements for permits. Additionally, an applicant must include in the plan the following information:
- 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: An applicant will also be required to submit a Plan to Positively Impact Disproportionately Harmed People. Note that this plan is a separate and distinct requirement from the Diversity Plan. The plan must be designed to positively impact the following groups of disproportionately harmed people, as designated by the Commission including:
- Application Fee: Each applicant will be required to pay the application fee of $1,500.
Marijuana manufacturing license applicants are required to list all relevant individuals and entities along with all background disclosures and authorization forms. Each individual or entity listed in the AOI section must also be listed in the Background Check Section. The individuals and entities list will be required to undergo in-depth background checks and individuals will also submit to fingerprint checks.
- Background Check Information: The CCC will make a determination of suitability for licensure for each individual and entity listed on the application, which is based, in part, on the background checks. Background checks will include but are not 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 person or 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: For the vendor to receive the necessary information, an applicant for a marijuana product manufacturing 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.
- Upon the completion of all forms by each required individual, the forms should be returned to the applicant. The applicant may scan each individual’s documents and ID card as one file, upload the file into the application, and label it appropriately.
MANAGEMENT AND OPERATIONS PROFILE
This section provides the CCC with a snapshot of the applicant's approach to operating the marijuana product manufacturing business. The information required in this section is an indication of whether the applicant understands the legal requirements to operate a marijuana product manufacturing business, including the CCC's regulations, and has plans that are specific to the manufacturing license, location, and scale. The information provided here will also indicate whether the applicant will be able to operate lawfully.
- Business Information, Articles of Organization, and Bylaws: The applicant is required to demonstrate that the proposed business is registered in Massachusetts as a domestic business corporation or another domestic business entity. The required documents must be in the name of the entity applying for licensure. These documents include:
- Massachusetts Business Identification number
- Articles of Organization
- Bylaws or, in the case of limited liability corporations, the operating agreement
- Business name
- Doing-business-as names
- Certificates of Good Standing: The applicant must provide certifications of good standing received from the Commonwealth's Secretary of State, 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 place of the Department of Unemployment Assistance's certification of good standing. All documents must be in the name of the entity applying for licensure.
- Business Plan, Liability Insurance Plan, and Proposed Timeline: An applicant must provide a comprehensive business plan for the operation of the marijuana manufacturing establishment. The plan should include the formal business name, doing-business-as name, and the branding name of the applicant's products. Revenue and cost forecasts, the company overview, and the operational plan are all examples of information that may be included in the business plan. Also, marijuana product manufacturers are required to include proof of compliance with additional operational requirements under 935 CMR 500.130. \
All applicants must provide a plan outlining their strategy for acquiring liability insurance that complies with regulatory standards. Applicants are not required to acquire insurance until they are licensed. However, each applicant must show in their plans that they will acquire, if licensed, a policy that includes a minimum of $1 million per occurrence and $2 million in aggregate yearly coverage for general liability and product liability. Each policy's deductible cannot exceed $5,000 per incident. \
Each applicant is expected to provide an estimated timeline for achieving the operation of the planned marijuana manufacturing establishment. The schedule should contain details and estimated dates for activities or events that will occur after the application's provisional license approval. For instance, projected timelines may include dates for the construction or renovation of a facility, the installation of security and other equipment, the issuance of building or construction permits, special permits, the employment of personnel, and other milestones.
- Summary of Operating Plans, Policies, and Procedures: The applicant must submit some plans, policies, and procedures related to the operating of the marijuana establishment. These documents must be specifically drafted to comply with the CCC's regulations and guidance documents. These documentations 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 Events for Agents
- Energy Compliance Plan
- Diversity Plan: Marijuana product manufacturing license applicants must present a Diversity Plan as part of their Management and Operations Profile. Diversity plans must be developed to promote equity in the operation of the establishment for people of color, especially Black, African American, Hispanic, Latinx, and Indigenous people; women, veterans, individuals with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ people. Note that this plan is a distinct requirement separate from the Plan to Positively Impact Disproportionately Harmed People. \
This plan must show the goals, programs, and measurements that the marijuana establishment will pursue once provisionally licensed. All goals should be quantifiable and measurable.
Following receipt of a marijuana product manufacturing license application by the Cannabis Control Commission, the application will be reviewed for compliance with the Commission's rules. If any part of the application is determined to violate the Commission's rules, the applicant will get a notice seeking further information, referred to as an RFI (Request For Information). A request for information notification will contain a short narrative explaining any detected defect or non-compliance issue.
The applicant may resubmit the license application or relevant part after correcting any flaws and non-compliance issues and uploading all required documentation and information. The Commission will promptly examine the new information following re-submission. If the application is found to be compliant with the Commission's regulations at this point, it will be deemed complete; if not, a second RFI notice will be sent after a supplemental review.
Once an application is fully submitted, it is queued for review depending on the date and time of submission and the application type (priority, expedited, or general). If the CCC determines that the application is complete, the applicant will be notified. The notification will include the following details:
- Instructions on how to pay for background checks that will be conducted
- Instructions for fingerprinting all required individuals
- Notification that the application has been submitted to the municipality (in which the manufacturing facility will be situated), seeking a response within 60 days on the marijuana establishment's compliance with local rules or bylaws.
- Notification that the application for a temporary license will be considered within 90 days.
If all information obtained from the applicant and the appropriate authorities demonstrates that the application complies with all applicable rules, provisional licensing will be recommended.
For more information on license application and processing, contact the Cannabis Control Commission at (774) 415-0200 or Commission@CCCMass.com.
How Much Does a Cannabis Manufacturing License Cost in Massachusetts?
A marijuana product manufacturing license costs $10,000 in annual license fees. However, a $1,500 fee applies when submitting the application for licensure. The marijuana product manufacturing license is renewable yearly and costs $10,000.
Can Licensed Marijuana Manufacturers Hold Other Cannabis Licenses in Massachusetts?
Per Massachusetts' Cannabis Control Commission's Guide on Licensure, there are no stated limitations on additional types of licenses that may be obtained by marijuana product manufacturer licensees. However, the Guide stipulates that no person or entity having direct or indirect control in a marijuana product manufacturing establishment may be granted more than three licenses.