Region: Eastern Cannabis Business Conference
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Reflecting on the Resiliency of the Cannabis Industry

Entrepreneurs and companies are likely feeling weary after what has proved to be a particularly challenging year for the cannabis industry. 

Legalization continues to expand, and yet an unprecedented string of events directly impacting cannabis businesses this year presented remarkable new difficulties for the nascent legal industry. As the East Coast appears poised to become the next multi-billion dollar frontier in the U.S. cannabis market, tapping into the resiliency that has guided the cannabis industry since the days of the underground is more crucial than ever. In this post, we explore how the industry was tested while also celebrating the incredible progress made in 2019.

2019: One for The History Books

One of the industry’s biggest setbacks this year stemmed from the vaping crisis. Since June there have been over 2000 reported cases, including more than 40 deaths, attributed to e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury, (EVALI). Over the course of investigating the outbreak, health officials identified illicit THC cartridges and Vitamin E acetate as both playing a role in the crisis – leading to an FDA warning for consumers to stop using all THC-containing vaping products, and to Massachusetts banning vaping products altogether in September.

While companies were left reeling from EVALI, mass layoffs from multiple established brands – placed greater attention on the industry’s vulnerabilities beneath the aggressive valuations and revenue forecasts. From companies trying to manage heavy tax burdens and consumer preference for the illicit market, to legal disputes and disappointing stock earnings for some of the industry’s biggest players, such hurdles shed light on the industry’s growing pains as it works towards achieving footing on solid ground.

But this year also saw significant progress. 

The House of Representatives passed the SAFE Banking Act in September, which, if passed in the Senate and signed by the President, means banks will no longer be punished for working with legal cannabis- and hemp-related businesses. Additionally, small businesses will finally gain access to traditional lending offered by financial service providers. 

Conversations on the EVALI issue emphasized the need for Federal legalization, and this week, the House Judiciary Community reviewed and voted on the bipartisan Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act. If ultimately passed, the MORE Act – the most comprehensive cannabis legislation ever introduced into Congress – will remove marijuana from the list of federal controlled substances, decriminalizing the plant and allowing states to set their own policies.

And despite the vape crisis, industry layoffs, and discouraging sales numbers, the cannabis industry is still experiencing record job growth, with employment opportunities increasing 79% from 2018. 

Hear more from the experts on the industry’s highs and lows during the educational session, “The Beauty and the Beast of Resilience,” at the National Cannabis Industry Association’s upcoming Northeast Cannabis Business Conference. Formerly the Seed to Sale Show, #NECannaBizCon is the only true B2B cannabis trade show focused on the East Coast. Broaden your network, explore emerging business opportunities, and discover the latest insights impacting the burgeoning Northeast industry. Join NCIA members, entrepreneurs, policymakers, industry leaders, and services providers on 40,000 square feet of expo floor when it all happens February 19-20, 2020 at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center – Registration is now open!

The State of Massachusetts Cannabis Regulations

Massachusetts Cannabis

Massachusetts voters legalized cannabis for all adults in 2016. While it took two years for adult-use sales to launch, largely due to delays stemming from legislative changes, in November 2018 Massachusetts became the first state on the East Coast to open a legal cannabis dispensary. Now, all eyes are on the Bay State as it forecasts to generate $1.1 billion in sales by 2022, setting the stage for a robust legal industry in the Northeast. In this blog post, we explore how cannabis regulations are shaping up in the state of Massachusetts.


It’s legal for adults over the age of 21 to possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis on their person, and up to 10 ounces in their home. An adult is allowed to grow up to 6 plants, and homes with 2 or more adults can grow a maximum of 12 plants. Public cannabis use in any form is prohibited, and since cannabis is federally illegal, it is also not to be used on federal land.

Massachusetts law allows for at least four types of cannabis licensing: retail, cultivation, product manufacturing, and independent lab testing. The Commonwealth’s Cannabis Control Commission is the governing body overseeing regulations and consists of five appointed commissioners charged with ensuring the state’s medical and adult-use laws reflect the will of the voters. The state’s 25-member Cannabis Advisory Board is tasked with researching the areas of public health, market participation, public safety and community mitigation, and the cannabis industry as a whole in order to provide the Commission with recommendations on regulation and taxation. 


In June 2018 Massachusetts became the first jurisdiction to launch a statewide social equity program, establishing pathways for entry into the legal industry for communities most impacted by the enforcement of prohibition. As of April 2018, Massachusetts law also allows for court-ordered record expungement for those convicted of certain prior cannabis offenses.

To date, Massachusetts has approved a total of 204 licenses across the state, and cannabis delivery has also been approved as of September 2019. Local officials are allowed to unilaterally prohibit cannabis businesses in their municipalities for one more year without polling residents.

In response to over 200 cases and 3 confirmed deaths attributed to vaping, Massachusetts became the first state to activate a ban on all vaping products. Originally slated to last four months, the ban has since been lifted for medical marijuana patients.


Hear from industry experts on the progress of legalization in the Bay State during the educational session, “The State of Massachusetts Cannabis Regulations”, at the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Northeast Cannabis Business Conference. Formerly Seed to Sale Show, #NECannaBizCon allows you to explore emerging business opportunities, expand your East Coast network and engage with the latest regional insights... Meet with NCIA members, entrepreneurs, policymakers, industry leaders, and services providers on 40,000 square feet of expo floor. It’s all happening February 19-20, 2020 at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center – Registration is now open

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