The survey found that time and money were two of the biggest challenges that these applicants faced, with 44.4% reporting that they have had difficulty raising enough capital, and 36.5% reporting that they are still working on their business plan. Another major challenge that these applicants face is a regulation that requires all applicants to receive prior approval from their local government. The state also allows local governments to prohibit canna-businesses in their jurisdictions, and a surprisingly large number of municipalities have chosen to do so. Unlike wealthier business owners, it is much harder for lower-income applicants to just uproot and move to another city that welcomes legal weed.
The survey does not necessarily represent a complete picture of all of the applicants, however, as the CCC only received responses from 63 out of the 326. In light of this, CCC Chairman Steve Hoffman said it was “premature” to predict whether the state will succeed in its goal of fostering diversity. “It’s going to take some time,” Hoffman said at a public meeting, Boston-based WBUR Radio reports. “We will monitor how this process works. We will tweak whatever we need to tweak to make it work. If we need to go back to the Legislature and ask for changes in the legislation, we will do so.”
The commission will continue to work on collecting information from surveys and focus groups so that they can adapt their regulations to offer more help to applicants who are struggling to succeed. Commissioner Title said that the issues need to be resolved as soon as possible, considering that “the fact that the benefit here is priority means that the more time goes on the and the more licenses we grant, the less meaningful that benefit becomes,” according to WBUR.
These issues highlight the fact that the creation of social equity programs may not be enough on its own to foster a diverse cannabis industry, and officials from other canna-legal states would be wise to keep an eye on whether the Bay State is able to address the conflict at hand.