- The Washington Times - Friday, June 22, 2018

Massachusetts awarded the state’s first recreational marijuana license Thursday in anticipation of retail dispensaries opening as soon as next month.

The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission’s five members unanimously voted to let Sira Naturals, Inc., harvest recreational marijuana at a cultivation facility in Milford where it currently grows medical weed.

The vote made Sira Naturals, formerly Sage Naturals, the recipient of the first recreational marijuana business licensed in connection with the law Massachusetts voters passed in 2016 legalizing the plant and paving the way for dispensaries to start retail sales.

“We are extraordinarily gratified by the decision,” said Sira Naturals CEO Michael Dundas, Boston’s NBC affiliate reported.

The license gives the grower approval to cultivate, process, package and transport marijuana to be sold at legal dispensaries once pot shops are permitted to sell the plant for non-medical use in accordance with the 2016 law.

Adults in Massachusetts have been allowed to possess, grow and use limited amounts of marijuana since the results of the recreational vote started taking effect 18 months ago, but currently the plant can only be legally purchased from medical dispensaries authorized under a separate law passed four years prior.

Recreational sales are slated to start as soon as July 1, but the state has failed so far to designate any retail dispensaries.

“It’s the beginning, not the end,” Cannabis Commission Chairman Steven Hoffman said Thursday, Worcester’s Telegram & Gazette newspaper reported. “This is the first license we’re taking up for deliberation, but we expect as we go forward over the next few weeks and months that every meeting will have a few additional ones … this is going to become a regular process.”

The commission’s next meeting is currently slated for June 26.

A total of nine states and D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana, but only six currently have laws in place allowing retail sales: Alaska, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state.

Marijuana is illegal under federal law. President Trump said earlier this month that he will “probably” support a bill protecting states that have legalized the plant for medical or recreational purposes.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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