With a mouse click, pot licensing will kick off

By Globe Staff  April 01, 2018

On Monday at noon, decades of debate all come down to this: a click of a computer mouse by a state technology contractor.

With that, the Massachusetts state government’s system for legal pot use will blink to life, and businesses can begin applying for licenses to grow, process, and sell cannabis to adults 21 and older.

The behind-the-scenes milestone will not have an immediate impact on consumers. But it does mark the beginning of a process that regulators expect will lead to the debut of recreational pot sales in July.

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And for longtime activists, it’s a moment some believed might never arrive.

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“I speculated this could happen, but I never dreamed that I would live to see it,” said Lester Grinspoon, an 89-year-old former Harvard psychiatry professor who in the 1970s helped found the movement that culminated in voters’ decision in 2016 to legalize the drug. “It certainly is gratifying.”

Related Links Everything you need to know about Massachusetts’ new pot rules

On Monday, the application process will open to certain businesses that qualify for expedited review: medical marijuana dispensaries that are already open or have a provisional permit, and so-called economic empowerment applicants — companies that are either led by, employ, or benefit communities that had high rates of arrests for drug crimes. This is part of a broader effort to redress racial disparities in the past enforcement of marijuana prohibition.

Qualifying companies will be allowed to submit full license applications beginning April 16 for any type of marijuana business. Next, on May 1,

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