“I think we heard the pain that people are feeling,” said Hoffman right before adjourning the meeting, adding that this conversation was not a one-time thing.
The meeting indicated that some applicants were not aware that there was a precertification option. After approving home delivery and social consumption licenses — which are only available to economic empowerment and social equity applicants for the first two years — the commission offered a precertification which would give the applicant a background check and a chance to be vetted by the commission before they go to a city or town for a host community agreement.
“I feel like once I was vetted and approved as an economic empowerment applicant that’s all the qualifications that were needed,” said Enid Pope. “It’s very disappointing for me to hear people speak today and they talk about things that I never received. I never got communication about a number of things. I had no idea that you guys talked about the prequalification but I never received notification about it. The way I find out answers is by coming to the hearings.”
A number of applicants said when they provided more information at the request of the commission, it took a month to hear back. Applicants also said their applications were reviewed by different staff members of the Cannabis Control Commission through the process, creating a discontinuity in the process.
Caroline Pineau of Haverhill Stem told the commission that she had a “fairly straightforward” question about her economic empowerment application but that she was not able to connect by phone with a live person. She asked if the commission could designate a staffer to handle questions from economic empowerment applicants.
Several applicants told the board that their bank accounts are being sucked dry as they retain property while their applications remain in the review process. Another issue among applicants was the prioritization of registered marijuana dispensaries, or RMDs.
Averyl Andrade of Between The Rows LLC told the commission she believes priority should only be given to established medical facilities that are currently serving patients.
Andrade offered a suggestion: immediately implement a one-to-one ratio of prioritized applicants to general applicants. She said the commission should establish agents who can review prioritized and economic empowerment applications and meet with applicants face-to-face.
“We are not just numbers on papers. We are real, actual people,” she said.
The location of cannabis meetings is another issue, said Andrade, noting that many of the communities that were deemed disproportionately affected by the war on drugs are south of Boston.
“Many people on the south coast and Cape cannot make it all the way out to Boston and Worcester,” she said. “We need help and we need to be heard.”
In between the criticisms and suggestions, there were applicants who thanked the commission for its work.
Moving forward, the commission plans to create a frequently asked questions document. The commission will also structure some roundtable conversations on specific topics to give applicants more information.
The commission will also go through a regulatory round next month, Hoffman said. One issue in that round will be to go over what the commission can do through regulations and process changes to address issues brought up during the forum.