Grow, Gift, Repair

Breakdown of signed HCAs

Title said the decision not to assess the agreements will most hurt the groups the commission is obligated to help: people of color, women, those impacted by the drug war and small businesses.

“There’s this gigantic barrier to entry that we could choose — if we’d just enforce the law — to remove,” she said. “But we’re willingly going to look the other way. I think this is going to be a historic decision.”

The commission will keep collecting host community agreements, and has a municipal survey out now to gauge how cities and towns are dealing with cannabis businesses. But it won’t necessarily take action. Commissioners said they want the Legislature to give guidance, such as whether required “donations” need to be included in the statutory 3 percent cap.
However, the Legislature is already aware of the host agreement issues. Last month, the authors of the cannabis law sent a letter to the commission urging it to address the practice of cities and towns going beyond the 3 percent cap.

WBUR has reviewed more than 40 agreements so far — some for businesses already granted a provisional license from the commission, but the majority are for businesses still in line to get a license.

Many agreements include some kind of donation. Newton charities would collect $2,500 a year from Garden Remedies, while businesses Alternative Therapies Group in Amesbury and New England Treatment Access in Brookline would gift $25,000 apiece annually. Northampton could see at least $55,000 in donations for “marijuana education and prevention” if the six businesses it’s signed agreements with get up and running.

Other agreements have minimum community impact fees, rather than a percentage — like the $150,000 East Coast Organics and Cannassist would each pay Leicester to hold two licenses apiece. Sira Naturals in Milford, meanwhile, would pay the town $250,000 a year — no matter how much product it sells or how much money it makes.

Other agreements have so-called “reopener” clauses — meaning that if a business negotiated a more lucrative contract with a different city or town, that first municipality could get that same deal.