Grow, Gift, Repair

A 2019 law sought to diversify Cambridge’s cannabis industry. So far, it hasn’t worked.

Revolutionary Clinics, which had two medical marijuana dispensaries in Cambridge under the city’s existing medical marijuana program, filed a lawsuit against the city over its policy the following month. In February 2020, Cambridge officials suggested they would put all discussions with recreational cannabis licenses on hold due to the lawsuit.

Ultimately the city reversed course after backlash from equity applicants, and promised it would soon start negotiating host agreements with equity applicants despite the lawsuit.

Yet according to the HCAs obtained by the Business Journal through a public records request, the city continued to put off signing most of its contracts until the lawsuit was nearly resolved. Revolutionary Clinics lost an appeals court decision on April 24, 2020, and was denied follow-on court motions in August and October 2020. The dispensary dropped its lawsuit with the city in January 2021.

Saskia VannJames, a lobbyist with the Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council, said municipalities as a whole need to be re-educated on how to better define equity. She called on the Cannabis Control Commission to put money toward such an education campaign.

“This is a racist industry. We can see it in the results,” VannJames said. “We have to invest into education at this point. There’s no other way around it.”