Building Permit on a door

Apply for a Cannabis Business Permit

Inspectional Services

Cannabis Business Permits are issued by the Cambridge Inspectional Services Department (ISD). Anyone seeking to open a Cannabis Retail Store or operate as a Cultivator, Product Manufacturer, and/or Transporter in Cambridge must obtain a Cannabis Business Permit. The Cannabis Business Permit must be obtained prior to final approval from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (MA CCC) for a Marijuana Establishment License.

In addition to the Cannabis Business Permit, all prospective cannabis businesses are required to secure a Special Permit from the Cambridge Planning Board and a Host Community Agreement (HCA) from the City Manager’s Office. Applicants may move through some steps for each requirement simultaneously, as noted below. These requirements are in addition to any for the Marijuana Establishment License issued from the MA CCC.

Per Cambridge Municipal Code Chapter 5.50 040, for the first two years after the Effective Date of Chapter 5.50 as stated in section 5.50.100, the City shall issue a Cannabis Business Permit to operate a Cannabis Retail Store only to Group A Priority Applicants who are Economic Empowerment Applicants certified as such by the Commonwealth's Cannabis Control Commission.

No applicants other than Group A Priority Applicants who are Economic Empowerment Applicants will be granted a Cannabis Business Permit by ISD. If you have questions about your status as a certified Economic Empowerment Applicant, review the MA CCC website.


How to Start

Note: Certain City requirements for obtaining a Cannabis Business Permit can be undertaken simultaneously. Whereas, some steps for obtaining a Cannabis Business Permit are undertaken prior to, or after, certain State requirements for obtaining a Marijuana Establishment License. Information about the state Marijuana Establishment License process can be found on the MA CCC website. These steps are noted below.

Pre-Application Steps

  1. Meet with staff in the Community Development Department (CDD) - Review requirements and process for Cambridge Planning Board Special Permit and Cannabis Business Permit. This will include confirming that the proposed place of business meets zoning regulations, learning about the Cambridge Special Permit process, and going over Cannabis Business Permit application criteria. 
  2. Host Community Agreement (HCA) Letter of Intent - Submit a letter to the Cambridge City Manager’s Office indicating intent to enter into an HCA, pending Planning Board approval of Special Permit. This letter of intent is required as part of a complete application for a Cambridge Special Permit from the Planning Board.
  3. Hold Community Meeting - The MA CCC requires Marijuana Establishment License applicants to host a public meeting prior to obtaining an executed HCA with the City of Cambridge.  Additionally, a pre-application community meeting is also required for the Planning Board Special Permit process. One meeting may be used to meet both requirements. Consult staff in CDD for how to schedule this meeting.

Local Process - Initial Steps

  1. Cannabis Business Permit Application - Submit a complete Cannabis Business Permit to CDD staff to determine eligibility to proceed.
  2. Planning Board Special Permit - Submit a complete Special Permit Application to the Cambridge Planning Board. A hearing will be held and approval of a Special Permit will be granted or denied based on compliance with zoning criteria.
  3. HCA Execution - Following Special Permit approval, the applicant must finalize the HCA with the City Manager's Office. 

State Process - Initial Steps

  1. Information about the application process for a Marijuana Establishment License with the MA CCC, including information about when a Provisional Marijuana Establishment License is issued, can be found on the MA CCC website.

Local Approval 

  1. Cannabis Business Permit - Submit Provisional MA CCC Marijuana Establishment License to ISD. Following receipt, and sign-off from all necessary City of Cambridge departments, ISD will issue a Cannabis Business Permit.
  2. Building Permit - Following City review of applicant's MA CCC Provisional License, Cannabis Business Permit, and compliance with the Planning Board's Special Permit decision, ISD issues Building Permit.
  3. Certificate of Occupancy - Following City review of applicant's MA CCC Provisional License, Cannabis Business Permit, and compliance with the Planning Board's Special Permit decision, ISD issues Certificate of Occupancy.

State Approval

  1. Information about the application process for a Marijuana Establishment License with the MA CCC, including information about when a Provisional Marijuana Establishment License is issued, can be found on the MA CCC website.
Page was last modified on 10/3/2019 3:56 PM
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