420 with CNW – Massachusetts Cannabis Dispensary Claims Regulatory Delays Cost Them Millions

September 24, 2020 03:25:34

A cannabis dispensary based in Massachusetts is claiming that the state’s inability to act on its application for over eight months has cost it millions of dollars. On September 14, Northeast Alternatives filed a lawsuit in the Suffolk Superior Court asking the court to instruct the Cannabis Control Commission to act on its application for a cultivation facility. In its complaint, the company stated that it submitted an application to the state in June 2019 for a second cultivation facility in Lakeville to supplement its cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensary operations in Fall River.

The dispensary says that it received five follow-ups from the commission asking for additional information, with the commission stating on January 26 that the application was complete. On February 20, the state received certification from the town of Lakeville stating that the Northeast Alternatives had signed the required contract with the municipality to operate in the town. Although state statutes require the commission to either issue or reject the application within 90 days, the dispensary has been waiting for over eight months.

The dispensary claims that it reached out to the commission in late March for an update and was told that its license would be reviewed during a commission meeting in May. However, May passed without any action and when the dispensary threatened to involve the courts in June, the commission requested more time. As July rolled by, the commission requested more information on several occasions, which the dispensary provided, but two months later, an update still wasn’t forthcoming.

“With each day that passes without the statutorily required action from the commission, NEA incurs additional costs related to the application, including rent on the property intended for the proposed marijuana establishment,” the complaint said, highlighting the fact that the dispensary has been paying $200,000 a month in rent all year. “Specifically, NEA has paid over $1.2 million in rent on the Lakeville location since its application was deemed complete.”

A spokeswoman for the agency said the commission would not comment on pending litigation. “The agency continues to conduct all possible due diligence to ensure marijuana establishments maintain suitability for licensure and has enforcement tools at its disposal if a licensee is found to be in violation of Massachusetts law or regulations.”

This isn’t the first time the Cannabis Control Commission has been criticized by applicants for dragging its feet. Back in December, applicant Leah Daniels interrupted a commission meeting in protest of the then 610-day wait on her pending application.

Analysts say sector players like Pure Extract Technologies Inc. are always saddened when stories of regulators unnecessarily delaying to approve cannabis business applications emerge because companies go through all sorts of hoops to satisfy a long list of requirements.

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