Grow, Gift, Repair

Boston Public hearing recap

The specifics varied, but the appeals to state cannabis regulators shared a common theme: Don’t forget the little guy.

“As a small business, how do we have that opportunity to get a foot in the door a little faster than these big mega-corporations who can just spend tons of money and wait in line and not have a problem?” said Andrew Mutty, cofounder of Beantown Greentown, who displayed a shirt that read “MORE WEED LESS GREED.”

Many speakers implored the commission to work harder to meet its legal mandate of enabling full participation in the booming industry by those harmed by the war on drugs. Social justice advocates said licenses for pot cafes and delivery services, which require lower startup capital than other types of businesses, should be given only to small businesses and “equity applicants,” or people from communities with high rates of marijuana arrests.

“Equity in the cannabis industry is in a state of emergency,” said Joe Gilmore, of the Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council. “Intentionally progressive actions must be taken immediately.”

Gilmore said the state should require businesses to donate to the state’s social equity program, which is aimed at helping historically disenfranchised groups thrive in the industry.

Another speaker urged regulators to allow people, like himself, who turned their lives around after being in prison, to work in the industry.

“Convicted felons should not be left behind while the whole world enjoys a billion-dollar green rush,” said Harry Jean-Jacques. “We need a way to break the cycle of recidivism.”

Once the commission drafts proposed rules, it will hold public hearings again before voting in June.