Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission Reviewing Host Community Agreements for Compliance With New Regulations

By David Ullian, Tim Callahan

Jun 5, 2024

In Massachusetts, all cannabis businesses are required to negotiate, enter into, and maintain a valid Host Community Agreement that complies with state law and the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission’s (Commission) cannabis regulations. Alternatively, a host community may waive the HCA requirement by submitting a signed and compliant HCA Waiver to the Commission.

In March 2024, the Commission started reviewing HCAs for compliance with state law (M.G.L. c. 94G § 3(d)) and pertinent HCA regulations (including 935 CMR 500.180 and 935 CMR 501.180). Starting in May 2024, the Commission began issuing formal Requests for Information and Notices of Deficiency to license applicants and licensees. These notices identify certain provisions of HCAs that the Commission has deemed non-compliant or potentially “unreasonably impracticable” and request the submission of a compliant HCA or HCA Waiver.

When Are HCAs Reviewed for Compliance?

As required by state law and the Commission’s regulations, the Commission reviews HCAs for compliance as part of an initial license application and at each license renewal. Importantly, the Commission has also started reviewing HCAs for compliance as part of a Post-Provisional License Inspection (PPLI).

  • Non-compliant HCAs submitted as part of an initial license application will receive Requests for Information from the Commission until fully compliant HCAs are submitted and approved. The Commission will not deem an initial license application “complete” until it receives, reviews, and approves a compliant HCA.

  • Non-compliant HCAs submitted as part of a license renewal application will receive Requests for Information from the Commission until a compliant HCA is submitted to and approved by the Commission. The HCA review process can cause delays in the license renewal process and may require a licensee to request a license extension from the Commission.

  • After reviewing an HCA requested during PPLI and determining it to be non-compliant, the Commission will issue a Request for Information and/or a Notice of Deficiency that identifies non-compliant provisions within the HCA and requests the submission of a compliant HCA or HCA Waiver. The Commission’s review of HCAs during PPLI means that a compliant HCA must be submitted and approved before the Commission will issue a Final License, which could cause significant delays in the final licensure process.

How to Request a License Renewal Extension for Renewals

On May 24, 2024, the Commission issued a bulletin updating its policy regarding administrative extensions of licenses. Previously, licensees could request a license extension of up to 120 calendar days to address various compliance issues that impact their license (including Certificates of Good Standing from the Department of Revenue). The Commission now allows for two additional license extensions of 120 days each (potentially up to 360 days total) so that the licensee and host municipality have ample time to address and resolve HCA compliance issues. License extensions also now require a prorated license fee to account for the additional time granted to the licensee.

To request a license extension under the requirements of this new bulletin, a licensee must send an email to with the following information:

  • The license number
  • Expiration date
  • Contact information
  • Reason(s) for the extension request
  • The number of days requested for the extension (which cannot exceed 120 days per request)

Complying with the New HCA Requirements

The particulars for amending an HCA with a host municipality will vary depending on each applicant’s/licensee’s circumstances and largely depend on the relationship with the host municipality and the host municipality’s willingness to amend an existing HCA.

To avoid potential delays in the initial application, license renewal, or final licensure processes, license applicants and licensees should proactively engage with their host municipalities to amend existing HCAs as needed to ensure compliance.

The Commission has published tools and resources to assist applicants, licensees, and host municipalities, including a Model HCA Template, HCA Waiver Form, Equitable Relief Request Form, and Guidance on HCAs.

For more information on the new HCA regulatory process, read these Vicente Insights posts:

If you have questions about HCA compliance or need assistance drafting or renegotiating an HCA with your host municipality, please contact Vicente Boston attorneys David M. Ullian (, 617-752-7148) or Phil Silverman (, 617-934-2121).

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