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Real Estate Considerations for Massachusetts Marijuana Establishments that Cultivate Cannabis

When starting up a marijuana establishment, potential founders must navigate many complex regulatory hurdles before their business can officially open its doors to the public. This blog post will focus on the various real estate regulations that Massachusetts marijuana establishments must comply with. Applicants for marijuana establishment licenses must identify suitable real estate in their application of intent, and the applicants must demonstrate either the ownership of that real estate or the possession of capital sufficient to acquire that real estate. In addition to the application of intent, applicants must submit a management and operations profile. Included in the operations and management profile are the marijuana establishment’s proposed policies regarding the following real estate related challenges: maintaining the security of the cultivation facility and any areas that process and store cannabis, protecting the cannabis products from contamination, compliance with energy efficiency guidelines, and ensuring adequate control of humidity, temperature, and odor in cultivation areas. In addition to these state regulations, marijuana establishments must comply with any additional local regulations and zoning laws that pertain to marijuana establishments.

When selecting a location for a marijuana establishment, potential founders must ensure that the location of their business is at least 500 feet away from any schools or playgrounds. This distance requirement is outlined in Massachusetts state law, but this mandated distance of 500 feet can be superseded by any local municipal regulations that reduce or expand that distance. Local municipalities can impose further restrictions on where marijuana establishments can operate, and they can even outright ban certain kinds of (and all) marijuana establishments from operating within their borders. In addition to facility inspections by officials of the Cannabis Control Commission, evidence of compliance with all local zoning laws is necessary for receiving a final license.

Once a suitable location for the marijuana establishment has been identified, the business must comply with several real estate regulations that dictate how the marijuana establishment should be laid out. The building should have access to sufficient clean and potable water for all cultivation operations, and the cultivation area should be rated to handle the required electrical demands. Further, Massachusetts has set energy efficiency standards for marijuana establishments that cultivate cannabis. Tier 1 (less than 5000 square feet) and tier 2 (5001-10000 square feet) cultivation facilities must use not exceed 50 watts per square foot, while all higher tiers must not exceed 36 watts per square foot. However, these energy standards can be ignored if 80% or more of the energy is generated from clean or renewable sources. Heat ventilation, air condition, and dehumidification must comply with Massachusetts building code standards. Perimeter alarms and surveillance cameras must be operational within the marijuana establishment. Functioning locks and limited access signs should restrict access to any areas where marijuana cultivation, processing, or storage takes place. Finally, areas that process marijuana should primarily be comprised of stainless surfaces to minimize the risk of contamination while processing products.

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