Grow, Gift, Repair

CCC Recap Part 1

“Enough talk about the equity applicants and what’s going wrong,” Commissioner Shaleen Title said. “It’s time to talk about concrete, tangible solutions moving forward.”

At Thursday’s meeting, the board agreed to consider recommendations to help people who are currently underrepresented in the industry.

“We’re never going to be able to do enough to make up for the harm that’s been done to those communities but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try,” Title said of cities and towns disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.

Massachusetts state law requires that the Cannabis Control Commission work to include people from such communities — as well as people with drug convictions, women, racial minorities and veterans — in the legal industry.

The commission is just starting a social equity program, which will offer guidance and technical assistance to those with drug convictions or who live in a community disproportionately affected by drugs. So far, that program has received 137 completed applications, of which 100 are from people interested in an entrepreneurship track.

But Title said the program was envisioned as a way to guide businesses through a system that is accessible. “If there are still systemic barriers, I’d describe the equity program as helping people cross a bridge that has not been built yet,” Title said.

Title proposed allowing “shared use” facilities, where multiple growers or product manufacturers could share space to keep their costs down.

Title suggested developing a new “priority status” for licensing, beyond the economic empowerment designation. The commission would have to determine who that status would apply to and what it would offer.

Title also suggested creating a limited vetting process before a company gets municipal approval. Currently, the commission only accepts applicants who have signed an agreement with their host community, but some communities would prefer to negotiate with a company that is already vetted.

Any proposal will need to go through thorough vetting. Some changes are likely to be considered as the Cannabis Control Commission considers updates to all the rules of the state’s marijuana program this spring.