Recreational Marijuana and the Special Permitting Process in Massachusetts

While the road to the legalization of recreational marijuana was a long one, it was signed into effect in July 2017. Now run and regulated by the Cannabis Control Commission, cannabis companies are required to go through a strict process with not only the Commission, but each City or Town in which the establishment will reside.

The special permit process one of the most critical steps on the road to receiving a license from the CCC. Cities, Towns and the CCC have integrated the special permit process and provisional licensure requirements together in an effort for a collective review. It is for these reasons that many successful special permit applications involve Architectural Services

What is a Special Permit?

Special permits are required for expansion or modification of specific uses and/or structures, as well as for uses specified in the Town Zoning ordinances and bylaws. A Special Permit is authorization to proceed construct a building or establish a use that the local jurisdiction deems in harmony with the general purpose and intent of local ordinances and by-laws.

Let’s “weed” through the process and lay it out there for you. In order to get a Provisional license in MA, here’s how to start:

  1. Enter a Host Community Agreement: The applicant must meet with the local jurisdiction, establish a relationship with the host community, meet all requirements of the host community as they pertain to the community host agreement, and finally receive a signed host community agreement.

  2. Apply for Provisional Licensure: Once the applicant receives a signed host community agreement they may proceed with their provisional license application to the CCC.

  3. Receive CCC Confirmation of Complete Application: The CCC will review the application and provide the applicant a letter deeming it complete.

  4. Apply for Special Permit with the Special Permit Granting Authority (SPGA): The Applicant must complete all regulatory submission requirements for the local jurisdiction and special permit granting authority and submits their special permit for review. The applicant must include the CCC complete application letter with this submittal.

  5. Receive Special Permit and Subsequent Provisional License: The SPGA will review the special permit application with the client and once approval has been granted, the client may complete their provisional license process with the CCC.

Sample Permitting Packages.


Here’s where we come in.

Because special permitting is not a new process, our team works on special permitting application for a majority of our clients. Therefore, we understand how our services can impact and be successful for cannabis companies looking to open a new location.  

We can contact town clerks, planning board members, etc. and coordinate with town officials to ensure the special permit application is thoroughly completed.

Services we can provide:

Our team can provide rendered site plans, schematic floor plans, high quality 3D renderings and fly-throughs to show the Town the applicant's intent so the they are more comfortable in providing a host community agreement. We understand the process is long and detailed, but our team of cannabis design experts can help navigate through everything you need to know.

We’ve created a comprehensive brochure that fully outlines the process and how we can help.

View + Download our Brochure: