Many local governments say that larger payments are within their legal rights and help the public benefit more from the booming marijuana industry.
But equity advocates say the payments that exceed the law’s cap amount to bribes that hurt small businesses and entrepreneurs from communities disproportionately hurt by the war on drugs.
“It’s a big problem for smaller or medium-sized businesses because it turns into a barrier to entry,” said Peter Bernard, president of the Massachusetts Grower Advisory Council.
“It’s a pay-to-play situation . . . It’s really a matter of extortion and bribery in plain sight,” he added.
The analysis, conducted by the law firm Gersten Saltman, found that most contracts violated the limits on deal duration, payment amounts, or both, trends that were first reported in August by The Boston Globe.