Boston officials this week will consider sweeping changes to how the city licenses marijuana businesses, debating a plan by City Councilor Kim Janey to wrest unilateral control of the process from the mayor’s office and give strong preference to companies whose owners were affected by the War on Drugs.
Janey’s proposed ordinance, made public Monday in advance of the City Council’s Wednesday meeting, would effectively impose a two-year ban on larger marijuana companies backed by outside money.
Instead, any company seeking permission to open a marijuana store during that window would have to show that its majority owners belong to three of six groups: those who lived for five of the past 10 years in an area of Massachusetts with disproportionately high rates of arrests for drug crimes; people who have lived in Boston for the past five years; those arrested in the past for marijuana-related offenses, or whose spouses or parents were arrested for marijuana-related offenses; people of black, African-American, Hispanic, or Latino descent; and people whose annual household income is below 400 percent of the federal poverty level.
Under Janey’s plan, any company that applied to the city before February 1, including several local medical dispensaries that are angling for recreational licenses, could still move forward without meeting the new criteria. After two years, so-called equity applicants would receive twice as many licenses as other firms.