Grow, Gift, Repair

Why Social Equity isn’t working

Shaleen Title, who advocated for pro-legalization legislation and who now sits on the state’s Cannabis Control Commission, said that social equity quickly becomes sidelined as a town deals with legalization issues like zoning, public safety and taxes, which are all fraught with their own nuanced issues regarding social justice.

“We’ve gotten feedback at hearings from municipalities and municipal associations that say, ‘That’s not our mandate,’ and ‘It’s not our concern,’” Title said.

Without the legal teeth to hold municipalities accountable, there isn’t much the state can do.

The Cannabis Control Commission is looking into giving interest-free loans to people of color and women, but nothing has been decided so far. There’s also a state social equity program that provides training and technical assistance. So far, it’s not nearly enough.

The Boston Globe reported last month that multistate operators are slowly taking over Massachusetts’ marijuana industry. State law says that no firm can own more than three shops, but large operators seem to be getting around that by using complex corporate structures. The Globe reports, “Of the 12 recreational shops that have opened so far here, all but two are owned by or have ties to large, out-of-state investors or multistate operators.”