Grow, Gift, Repair

MMA blaming “industry lobbyists” for more scrutiny on HCAs

The head of the Massachusetts Municipal Association says the state should butt out of pot agreements between vendors and cities and towns.

“Every community has different issues, different considerations,” MMA President Geoff Beckwith told the Herald as advocates call for more oversight of the deals between the municipalities and pot shops.

Some legislators and activists say the Cannabis Control Commission should take a harder look at the agreements that govern the shops’ operations as many yet-to-be-opened marijuana facilities are on track to fork over significantly more money to cities and towns than the law calls for. The people who want the CCC to crack down on that say this creates a system where local entrepreneurs are priced out of the weed business by big corporations.

Beckwith says the real motivation of legislators calling for this change is a different kind of green.

“There are efforts on the part of the paid marijuana industry lobbyists to limit these agreements,” he said. Beckwith said the lobbyists are trying to create more favorable agreements for pot companies by capping the amount of money the companies have to pay in host agreements.

“It’s the job of industry lobbyists to try to steamroll any state or local regulation,” Beckwith said. “They always try to flatten the landscape for their industry.”

The five-member Cannabis Control Commission is in agreement with Beckwith, voting last month to take a hands-off approach to the host-community agreements. But several legislators, including state Sen. Pat Jeh­len, are calling for the board to change course, saying this will drive up the price of pot, ensuring an illicit market remains.

“This is a very expensive industry to get into and this is be to the exclusion of small independent entrepreneurs,” Jahlen said.

Shaleen Title, the only one of the five CCC members to vote last month in favor of taking a more active role in vetting the agreements, told the Herald yesterday that high barriers to entry would go against portions of the new law meant to help minority communities that have seen outsized marijuana arrest numbers over the decades.

“It undermines everything we’re trying to do in terms of encouraging small businesses,” Title said.