What Is a Marijuana Microbusiness in Massachusetts?
Microbusinesses are opportunities for entrepreneurs who do not have huge capital to launch into the marijuana industry by operating out of shared business spaces. The State of Massachusetts offers an opportunity to budding entrepreneurs to enter into the cannabis industry and thrive. Per the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), a marijuana microbusiness is a co-located marijuana establishment that can either be a Tier 1 marijuana cultivator, marijuana product manufacturer, or both.
These businesses may deliver marijuana or marijuana products produced at their licensed locations directly to consumers in accordance with established regulatory requirements for retail sale as it relates to delivery, in accordance with the operating guidelines for each license, and if in receipt of a delivery endorsement issued by the CCC. A delivery endorsement refers to authorization granted to some cannabis licensees identified by the CCC to perform deliveries directly from the marijuana business to consumers. Delivery endorsements for microbusinesses are subject to the exclusivity provisions for delivery licensees established in 935 CMR 500.050(10)(b).
Does Massachusetts License Marijuana Microbusinesses?
According to the Regulations on Adult Use of Marijuana (935 CMR 500.000), the State of Massachusetts makes provisions for marijuana microbusinesses to obtain microbusiness licenses from the Cannabis Control Commission. A marijuana micro business that is a marijuana product manufacturer may purchase no more than 2,000 pounds of marijuana annually or its dry-weight equivalent in raw concentrate per year, but no other marijuana products from marijuana establishments (MEs) for the purpose of marijuana product manufacturing by the licensee.
A microbusiness must comply with all operational requirements imposed by 935 CMR 500.105 through 500.140 on marijuana growers, marijuana manufacturers, and retailers, to the degree the licensee participates in such operations.
How to Get a Marijuana Microbusiness License in Massachusetts
To begin the process of acquiring a Massachusetts license for a marijuana microbusiness establishment, the applicant must visit the Massachusetts Cannabis Industry Portal and complete all three sections of the license application form. These are the following sections:
- Application of Intent (AOI)
- Background Check
- Management and Operations Profile
The applicant must submit accurate information about the marijuana microbusiness activities and the people and organizations connected with the establishment and show knowledge of applicable laws governing marijuana microbusiness operations, locations, and sizes. Note that the CCC requires that a majority of the microbusiness' executives or members have lived in Massachusetts for at least 12 months before submitting the application.
Each stage of the application process requires the submission of the following information and documentation:
APPLICATION OF INTENT
The Application of Intent (AOI) requires the disclosure of any persons with direct or indirect interests in the proposed marijuana microbusiness in their application for licensure. These persons include individuals who own controlling interests in the applicant's indirect holding or parent company, the applicant's CEO and executive director, as well as any other person in a position to indirectly influence the microbusiness establishment's decision-making process.
A person or entity with direct control satisfies one or more of the following criteria:
- Required Individuals and Entities: The applicant must name persons or organizations with direct or indirect control over the cannabis microbusiness. One or more of the following conditions must be fulfilled by such persons:
- An owner who has a financial stake in the marijuana microbusiness in the form of equity of 10% or more.
- A person or organization with a voting stake of 10% or more in the marijuana microbusiness establishment 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 more than 10% of the dividends or at least 10% of the profits
- a court appointee
- a third-party technology provider with a financial interest in a delivery licensee
- Disclosure of In-State Interests: Applicants must disclose whether any individuals or organizations previously identified as holding or retaining a form of control over the microbusiness have interests in any other marijuana establishment (ME) or medical marijuana treatment center (MTC) license in Massachusetts. In no way should the information supplied be misleading or false.
- Disclosure of Out-of-State Interests: Applicants must show proof of any marijuana-related business interests they possess or have in other states. Bylaws, articles of incorporation, and operating agreements, an affidavit attesting to the truth and sincerity of the disclosure may be required.
- Capital Resources: The applicant must declare the amounts and sources of funding available from each person or organization contributing capital to the establishment or operation of the microbusiness. \
The applicant must also provide evidence of capital, such as a financial institution record dated within 60 days of the application's submission. A written loan agreement is required when a person or organization provides funds for a loan. Furthermore, the applicant must submit evidence, in the form of an affidavit or notarized document, that any funds used to invest in or finance the business was legally earned or acquired.
- Bond or Escrow Account: All applicants must provide a bond or escrow account to cover the costs of dismantling and shutting down the marijuana microbusiness establishment. The money must be adequate to offset any unpaid state or local sales taxes, secure the licensee's premises, and destroy any marijuana and inventory on the licensee's premises.
- Property Identification and Interest Documentation: Each applicant must specify the location of their intended marijuana microbusiness. Following the identification of the proposed location(s), the applicant must provide proof of property interest, which may include:
- a clear legal title to the proposed site
- a legally binding agreement authorizing the transfer of such title
- an option to purchase the site
- documentation from the owner as evidence permitting the use of the premises
- Host Community Agreement Certification: A one-page certification signed by the host municipality's contracting authority and the applicant is needed. The Commission's website has more information on Host Community Agreements.
- Community Outreach Meeting Attestation and Documentation: The Community Outreach Meeting's objective is to educate and inform the local community about the proposed marijuana microbusiness. The Community Outreach Meeting is strongly encouraged since it will contribute to the creation and effectiveness of the Host Community Agreement. Each applicant must have a Community Outreach Meeting in conformity with the provisions established by the Cannabis Control Commission.
- Plan to Remain Compliant with Local Ordinances: Each applicant must clarify how the marijuana microbusiness will comply with all local regulations, including those governing the sale of recreational and medicinal marijuana. Proposals must include the following information:
- Identification of the prospective address's zoning district
- Identification of any necessary permits and Identification of the time and frequency of the renewals of the permits
- Plan to Positively Impact Disproportionately Harmed People: This Plan must be presented by a marijuana microbusiness license applicant and must benefit the following CCC-identified groups:
BACKGROUND CHECK SECTION
In this section, the applicant must name any relevant individuals and organizations and any background disclosures and approval papers. Every individual or organization in the AOI section must also be in the Background Check section. Individuals and organizations will be fingerprinted, and their backgrounds will be thoroughly investigated.
- Background Check Information: The Commission will assess each applicant's eligibility, which includes conducting background investigations. Checks will include, but not be limited to:
- Records from 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
Applicants must identify any legal actions initiated against them in Massachusetts or another state. Applicants are not required to report any sealed or erased convictions.
- Background Authorization Forms: Every applicant must pass a background check. A third-party partner does the background checks. For the partner to obtain the necessary information, the applicant must submit three permission paperwork and an unexpired government-issued photo ID for each individual mentioned on the application. The CORI Acknowledgement Form, the Disclosure and Acknowledgement Form, and the Release Authorization Form are required.
MANAGEMENT AND OPERATIONS PROFILE
An applicant's plan for running a marijuana microbusiness is described in this section of the license application. This section demonstrates that the applicant is aware of the legal requirements, including the Commission's regulations, and that the applicant has plans specific to the license type, location, and size of the facility.
- Business Information, Articles of Organization, and Bylaws: The applicant must show that the business is registered in the state. Acceptable proofs are:
- Business name
- Articles of Organization
- Massachusetts Business Identification number
- Certificates of Good Standing: All applicants must provide certificates of good standing from the Massachusetts State Secretary, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, and the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance. All certificates must be dated within 90 days of the date of filing of the licensing application. \
To register with the Department of Unemployment Assistance and receive a certificate of good standing, an applicant must have employees. If an application does not have any workers, an attestation to that effect will suffice in place of Department of Unemployment Assistance certification.
- Business Plan, Liability Insurance Plan, and Proposed Timeline: All applications must include insurance policies, estimated time frames for establishing operations, and a thorough business plan for the marijuana microbusiness operation. The Plan may contain revenue and expenditure projections, a company overview, and an operational plan. \
Although insurance policies are not required until after licensure, applicants must demonstrate in their plans that they will acquire policies covering general liability and product liability for at least $1 million per occurrence and $2 million in aggregate once licensed. Each insurance policy should have a maximum deductible of $5,000 per incident.
- Summary of Operating Policies, Procedures, and Plans: The applicant must provide plans, policies, and procedures for the operation of the marijuana microbusiness. These documents must adhere to the CCC's standards and requirements. The following papers are included:
- 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: Applicants for a marijuana microbusiness license must submit a Diversity Plan as part of their Management and Operations Profile. Diversity plans must be developed to ensure that persons of color, including Black, African American, Hispanic, Latinx, and Indigenous people and women, veterans, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ individuals, have equitable access to the establishment's operations. \
This Plan must include the marijuana establishment's objectives, programs, and metrics after the business has been granted a provisional license. All objectives must be measurable and quantifiable.
Also, microbusiness license applicants must provide the same plans required of marijuana cultivators under 935 CMR 500.101(3)(a), marijuana product manufacturers under 935 CMR 500.101(3)(c), and retailers under 935 CMR 500.101(3)(e) in the case of a delivery endorsement, to the extent that these requirements involve retail sales.
For a microbusiness with a cultivation location sized as Tier 1, compliance with water quality and quantity, wastewater, solid and hazardous waste management, air pollution control, including prevention of odor and noise, and other requirements of 935 CMR 500.120(11) will be required. Proof of compliance may be demonstrated through an energy compliance letter prepared by one or more of the following energy professionals:
- A Certified Energy Auditor approved by the Association of Energy Engineers
- A Certified Energy Manager approved by the Association of Energy Engineers
- A Massachusetts Licensed Professional Engineer
- A Massachusetts Licensed Registered Architect
When the Commission receives a license application, it thoroughly reviews it to verify that it conforms with all Commission regulations. If any part of the application is determined to violate the Commission's rules, the applicant will get a request for further information or RFI. An RFI notice will include a brief narrative that describes any defects or non-compliance concerns that have been discovered.
After addressing the flaws and non-compliance issues and uploading all required documents and information, the applicant may resubmit the license application or relevant portion. The Commission will review the supplementary documents as soon as possible. If the application is determined to be consistent with the Commission's requirements at this point, it will be considered complete; if not, a second RFI notice will be issued after a supplementary evaluation.
When an application is completed and submitted in its entirety, it is queued for review based on the date and time of submission and the priority, expedited, or general status of the application. When the application is complete, the CCC will inform the applicant. The following information will be included in the notice:
- Instructions for payment for background checks to be conducted
- Instructions for all necessary persons' fingerprints
- Notification that the application has been submitted to the municipality (in which the microbusiness establishment will be situated), to the extent allowed by law, seeking a response on the marijuana facility's compliance with local rules or bylaws within 60 days.
- Notification that the CCC would review the application for a provisional license within 90 days.
A provisional license will be issued if the applicant and the appropriate government authorities submit all necessary information. You may study the Cannabis Control Commission's Adult-Use of Marijuana Regulations for additional details on marijuana microbusiness licensing. You may also contact the Cannabis Control Commission at (774) 415-0200 or Commission@CCCMass.com for further inquiries.
How Much Does a Marijuana Microbusiness License Cost in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts charges a $1,000 application fee for a marijuana microbusiness license. Successful applicants are also required to pay 50% of the combined sum of the license fees for all the cultivation or manufacturing activities covered by their licenses.
Can Licensed Marijuana Microbusinesses Hold Other Cannabis Licenses in Massachusetts?
A microbusiness licensee may not be a person or organization with direct or indirect control over any other marijuana establishment, save for social consumption establishment and delivery endorsement licenses, according to the Guide on Cannabis Licensure in Massachusetts. No more than three microbusiness licenses in total may be issued to a person with direct or indirect control in another microbusiness license.