Solidarity for Cannabis Equity


You spoke and Big Marijuana listened! Thanks to your advocacy, the Commonwealth Dispensary Association has dropped its lawsuit attacking the Cannabis Control Commissino’s new delivery license regulations, which are exclusively limited to Economic Empowerment and Social Equity Program participants for the first three years and represent the last opportunity for meaningful diverse ownership in this billion dollar sector. 

HOWEVER – this victory is only the start of our campaign to demand equity, transparency, and accountability in the Massachusetts cannabis industry. More works remains to:

  • Ensure that this lawsuit is not refiled by any individual members of the CDA (the CDA dismissed the case without prejudice, which is a legal standing allowing them to refile at any time); 
  • Shine a spotlight on and hold industry players accountable for their efforts to manipulate, lobby and sue to stop equity initiatives;
  • Pass laws that improve equitable industry participation and invest in disparately harmed small businesses and communities; and
  • Hold the CCC accountable for continuing to deliver on their legislative equity mandates

Learn more about these important opportunities to expand equity in the Massachusetts cannabis industry by signing up for email alerts.

Read more about our victory in the Boston Globe:

The largest marijuana business association in Massachusetts has dropped a lawsuit against the state after more than a dozen key members of the group quit or renounced the litigation in the face of a fierce backlash from advocates.

The Commonwealth Dispensary Association, which represents dozens of established brick-and-mortar marijuana companies, sued the state Cannabis Control Commission earlier this month to overturn recently implemented regulations that created a new, competing class of online pot-delivery retailers — and that reserve the licenses exclusively for disenfranchised entrepreneurs for three years.

Marijuana activists and customers quickly responded with threats of an organized boycott, saying the legal challenge was protectionist and struck at a program meant to benefit Black and brown communities disproportionately targeted by police for marijuana arrests.

That criticism apparently stung. Beginning late Friday, a number of CDA member companies — nearly all of which had previously agreed to file and help fund the litigation — suddenly began announcing they were leaving in protest. By Sunday, at least 10 companies had quit, including New England Treatment Access, the state’s largest marijuana operator and the first to renounce the association.

With the group splintering and support for the lawsuit crumbling among remaining members, CDA’s leaders appeared to have little choice but to withdraw the lawsuit. Still, it was a stunning turnaround from just days earlier, when the group charged publicly that the commission had “overstepped its authority and disregarded state law, radically upending the established rules,” and sought to present a united front of large and small pot retailers.

Leaders, partners, and allies call for boycott of Commonwealth Dispensary Association members until anti-equity lawsuit is dropped

Dear Patients, Consumers, Allies, and Members of the Public:

Members of the Commonwealth Dispensary Association (CDA) and their lawyers at Foley Hoag have put their profits ahead of the will of the voters, the Legislature, and the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) by suing to stop the most impactful equity policy the CCC has created.

The three-year exclusivity period for members of the state’s social equity and economic empowerment programs for new delivery licenses would finally create a pathway for meaningful industry participation for Black, brown, and other disparately harmed entrepreneurs from communities most devastated by the War on Drugs.

These licenses were crafted as part of the state’s mandated equity language — the CDA’s assertion that the CCC did not have the authority to create exclusive licenses for equity is a meritless attack designed to further marginalize and strip opportunity from Black and brown communities.

As such, we, the undersigned advocates for equity and social justice, are calling for all patients, consumers, cannabis businesses and ancillary businesses to boycott the following CDA members until they drop the lawsuit or withdraw their membership (crossed out members have quit the association thanks to your support!):

Allies in equity are urged to stand in solidarity by taking the following actions:

We recognize that patients and consumers continue to have limited options and may have restrictions based on geography, strain availability, cost, and other factors but encourage you to seek alternatives whenever possible.
For questions or more opportunities to get involved, please email Shanel Lindsay at Equitable Opportunities Now.

In Solidarity for Equity,

  • Shanel Lindsay, Equitable Opportunities Now (EON)
  • Segun Idowu, Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA)
  • Grant Smith Ellis, Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (MassCann)
  • Chris Fevry, Massachusetts Cannabis Association for Delivery (MCAD)
  • Devin Alexander, Rolling Releaf*+
  • Derrell Black, Minorities for Medical Marijuana (M4MM)
  • Cannaclusive
  • Carol Mallory, Northeastern University School of Law (NUSL)
  • Horace Small, Union of Minority Neighborhoods (UMN)
  • Aaron and Janelle Goines, The Emerald Turtle

(*Indicates signatures on behalf of individuals. +Economic Empowerment or Social Equity Program participant.)