Part 2: Interview with Steven Hoffman

See Full Interview with Steven Hoffman here.

In the rapidly growing multi-billion dollar cannabis industry, new developments frequently occur in capital markets, investments, M&A, and regulation. Attendees of the Third Annual State of the Cannabis Industry Conference had the opportunity to learn the ins and outs firsthand from many of the industry’s leading experts. In a Spotlight Interview, Frank Segall, Burns & Levinson Chairman, Business Law and Finance, sat down with Steve Hoffman, Chairman of the Cannabis Control Commission of Massachusetts (CCC).

With a background in business and finance, Hoffman admits that this was not a position he had sought after. He had never been in public service before and voted “No” to Question 4 in the original legislature that made marijuana legal in the state. Nevertheless, Hoffman has led a respectable campaign on behalf of the CCC that prioritizes transparency in all aspects.

With a staff of 65 people, the CCC operates with the mission of ensuring that there is room for small players in the big game. Hoffman stressed that there is a responsibility to ensure that the industry meets the expectations of its supporting voter base. To do so, the CCC must tackle problems such as capital availability. In Massachusetts, there was a legal requirement for the industry to help communities that have suffered during the prohibition of marijuana. It is the responsibility of the CCC to rectify the problems of the past and create equitable solutions. However, the Commission cannot do this alone, and Hoffman calls and credits legislation, cities, and towns, as well as private industry, for being part of the solutions to these problems.

As the cannabis market continues to expand, Hoffman offered approximate numbers of applicants and registered dispensaries currently working in the Commonwealth. In terms of “adult use,” the CCC has approved over 200 applicants that are now at one of three phases. These three phases are: provisional (84), final (50), and commence operations (66). In addition, there are roughly 343 applicants still in review. Hoffman was quick to emphasize that the review process, by law, is extensive. In addition to the CCC’s analysis, there is also a background check from a third party and zoning checks.

With regards to the recent vape ban in Massachusetts, Hoffman noted his support for Governor Baker’s decision. Hoffman noted that the CCC has taken action to make sure that restrictions are being met through their “seed-to-sale” tracking system that offers warning signals when banned products are sold. However, he did voice concerns about people now turning back to the black market, which was the original root of the problem. Lack of controlled sales and regulations severely cripples the Commission’s as well as the state’s ability to identify the cause of current health issues involving vapes and therefore prolongs finding a solution.