The Cannabis Control Commission (Commission) is currently reviewing its regulations and considering policy changes that respond to recent changes in state law known as Chapter 180 of the Acts of 2022: An Act Relative to Equity in the Cannabis Industry. Three Working Groups composed of Commissioners and staff have been discussing policies to implement HCA reform, municipal equity provisions, and social consumption.
In response to a request for public comments, Equitable Opportunities Now submitted the following letter.
Apr 28, 2023
Cannabis Control Commission
Attn: Shawn Collins, Executive Director
2 Washington Square
Worcester, MA 01604
RE: Public Comment on Host Community Agreements, Municipal Equity, and Social Consumption Reforms
Dear Chair O’Brien, Commissioner Camargo, Commissioner Concepcion, Commissioner Roy, and Commissioner Stebbins,
Thank you for your ongoing commitment to fostering a safe, regulated, and equitable cannabis industry to create economic opportunity for those most harmed by the war on drugs, as envisioned by voters with the approval of Question 4 and by the Legislature through their amendments to the law, and most recently, S3096, An Act relative to equity in the cannabis industry.
We appreciate that the Cannabis Control Commission has invited residents and stakeholders to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns on these topics:
- Host Community Agreements (HCAs): The HCA Working Group is tasked with developing policy recommendations relative to the new statutory requirement that the Commission reviews HCAs, establish a written waiver process, and develop a model HCA.
- Municipal Equity: The Municipal Equity Working Group (WG) is tasked with developing policy recommendations relative to the new statutory mandates to promote social equity at the municipal level. The Commission is required to establish procedures and policies for municipalities to promote Economic Empowerment Priority Applicants (EEAs) and Social Equity Program Participant (SEP) businesses, including new standards for prioritizing applicants, minimum acceptable standards, and best practices for municipalities negotiating HCAs.
- Social Consumption: Under Chapter 180, municipalities can now authorize social consumption at the local level. The Social Consumption Working Group is tasked with reviewing the Commission’s existing social consumption regulations to consider whether any new regulations or amendments to the existing regulations are needed to move the Social Consumption Marijuana Establishment license forward in Massachusetts.
Enclosed please find concerns and recommendations for these Working Groups and the Commission on behalf of Equitable Opportunities Now and the entrepreneurs and workers with whom we partner. We look forward to working with you throughout the process to ensure your final regulations are both equitable and effective.
Host Community Agreements (HCAs)
As the Commission is likely aware, Host Community Agreements have been a cornerstone of inequity in the Massachusetts cannabis industry since the voters legalized cannabis for medical use with Question 3 in 2012, with those barriers compounding exponentially under the adult-use market.
Because there were no restrictions or independent oversight of HCAs and their community impact fees (CIFs) between municipalities and Registered Marijuana Dispensaries (RMDs), by the Department of Public Health (DPH), which were negotiated when securing letters of support or non-opposition, they often went to the highest bidder, with draconian terms requiring excessive payments (often an unreasonable percent of gross revenues) and exorbitant payments to politically-connected nonprofits with no direct relation to any potential community impacts caused by the RMD. In some instances, this lack of oversight fostered outright corruption as illustrated by the case of former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia, which was ultimately exposed by federal authorities.
When voters approved, and the Legislature amended, Question 4, the Commonwealth made significant strides forward in advancing equity in the cannabis industry through numerous provisions, which include defining HCAs and creating the following limits per M.G.L. c. 94G, § 3(d) [expired 10/9/22]:
“[Community impact fees] shall not amount to more than 3 per cent of the gross sales of the marijuana establishment or medical marijuana treatment center or be effective for longer than 5 years. Any cost to a city or town imposed by the operation of a marijuana establishment or medical marijuana treatment center shall be documented and considered a public record.”
Despite the best intentions of Question 4, the law itself allowed the inequity of economic opportunity sowed in medical marijuana HCAs to grow under adult use. By giving the best-financed operators (who already had a first-to-market advantage in medical) to have equal prioritization as Economic Empowerment (EE) applicants (the least capitalized or connected) in licensing, the system effectively enabled the largest MSOs to maximize their first-to-market advantage in the adult-use market without sufficiently investing in or supporting EE applicants.
With the CCC’s decision not to review whether HCA community impact fees were reasonably related to the costs to the municipality related to the operation of the marijuana establishment, this inequity has continued to grow from the industry’s deeply-rooted first-mover advantage granted to those who could afford to pay excessive HCA fees during medical, as well as the persistent lack of oversight since that time for subsequent applicants who have continued to shutout smaller entrepreneurs from communities harmed by the war on drugs from securing agreements with municipalities.
Summary of HCA Provisions of S3096
In response to the well-documented concerns and abuses related to HCAs – and thanks in large part to the advocacy of current and past Commissioners – the Legislature passed S3096, An Act relative to equity in the cannabis industry, to begin to address these issues.
For the convenience of the Commission and staff, we have excerpted sections of the law below.
New Definitions & Restrictions
“A marijuana establishment or a medical marijuana treatment center seeking a new license or renewal of a license to operate or continue to operate in a municipality that permits such operation shall negotiate and execute a host community agreement with that host community setting forth the conditions to have a marijuana establishment or medical marijuana treatment center located within the host community, which shall include, but not be limited to, all stipulations of responsibilities between the host community and the marijuana establishment or medical marijuana treatment center.”
“a host community agreement may include a community impact fee for the host community; provided, however, that no host community agreement shall include a community impact fee after the eighth year of operation of a marijuana establishment or a medical marijuana treatment center.”
“A host community may waive the host community agreement requirement; provided, however, that the host community shall submit to the commission a written waiver executed by the host community and the marijuana establishment…”
“shall encompass all payments and obligations between the host community” and the operator
“shall not include any additional payments or obligations, including, but not limited to, monetary payments, in-kind contributions and charitable contributions…”
“Any other contractual financial obligation that is explicitly or implicitly a factor considered in, or is a condition of a host community agreement, shall not be enforceable.”
“Nothing… shall preclude a marijuana establishment… from voluntarily providing organizations with monetary payments, in-kind contributions and charitable contributions after the execution of the host community agreement; provided, however, that a host community agreement shall not include a promise to make a future monetary payment, in-kind contribution or charitable contribution”
“Any cost imposed upon a host community by the operation of a marijuana establishment or medical marijuana treatment center shall be documented by the host community and transmitted to the licensee not later than 1 month after the date of the annual renewal of a final license to operate the marijuana establishment or medical marijuana treatment center and shall be a public record…”
“If a licensee believes the information documented and transmitted by a host community is not reasonably related to the actual costs imposed upon the host community in the preceding year by the operation of the marijuana establishment or medical marijuana treatment center, the licensee may bring a breach of contract action against the host community and recover damages, attorneys’ fees and other costs encompassed in the community impact fee that are not reasonably related to the actual costs imposed upon the city or town.”
“The commission shall review and approve each host community agreement as part of a completed marijuana establishment or medical marijuana treatment center license application and at each license renewal. If the commission determines that a host community agreement is not in compliance with this section, the commission shall provide written notice of any deficiencies and may request additional information from the prospective licensee and host community. The commission shall not approve a final license application unless the commission approves the host community agreement and certifies that the host community agreement complies with this subsection. The commission shall complete its review of a host community agreement not later than 90 days after it is received by the commission.”
To address concerns about ambiguity regarding the powers of the CCC to regulate HCAs, the Legislature included the following explicit mandates in S3096:
- “Review, regulate, enforce and approve host community agreements…”
- “Establish procedures and policies for municipalities to promote and encourage full participation in the regulated marijuana industry during negotiations of host community agreements with social equity program businesses and economic empowerment priority applicants…”
- “Develop a model host community agreement, minimum acceptable standards and best practices for municipalities and prospective licensees during negotiations of host community agreements with social equity businesses.”
- “Criteria for reviewing, certifying and approving host community agreements and community impact fees, including criteria for calculating community impact fees…”
- “Procedures and policies for host communities to promote and encourage full participation in the regulated marijuana industry… during negotiations of host community agreements with social equity businesses, including, but not limited to, advisory guidelines, best practices and minimum acceptable policy standards.”
Uprooting the deeply seeded inequity enabled over the last decade of agreements between cannabis businesses and municipalities is a significant undertaking and we appreciate the CCC’s thoughtful approach to bringing in diverse voices to this process.
As the HCA Working Group and full Commission draft regulations to implement the new mandates and provisions of S3096, we urge you to center them on the following policy priorities:
- Ensuring HCAs and CIFs are based on actual costs and create as minimal a barrier as possible
- Leveling the playing field by ensuring municipalities are consistent and transparent in their terms to applicants regardless of their level of capitalization
- Ensuring municipalities aren’t financially incentivized by excess HCA terms and CIF fees and choose the best partners for their community
- Encouraging municipalities to take advantage of financial incentives available for siting equity businesses
- Creating a level playing field in which municipalities consider their responsibility to support equitable opportunity in the industry and HCAs and community impact fees reflect
- Undoing financial harm incurred by existing unfair and inequitable HCAs
- Empower applicants to understand their full rights and responsibilities
- Support staff by ensuring they have the resources they need to support the Commission in its reviews
Given the significant costs and time associated with CCC reviews and/or civil actions to address HCAs that may be out of compliance, we encourage the CCC to urge all applicants, licensees, and host communities to review their agreements and fees and voluntarily amend them to conform with the law before application review or renewal. It would also be helpful to establish an automated process for reminding applicants, licensees, and host communities of their legal rights and responsibilities regarding HCAs six and three months prior to application reviews or license renewals.
The Commission has a significant responsibility in shaping the future of the Commonwealth’s cannabis industry through the “procedures and policies it establishes to promote and encourage full participation in the regulated marijuana industry during negotiations of host community agreements with social equity program businesses and economic empowerment priority applicants” it creates, as well as through the model host community agreement and “minimum acceptable standards and best practices for municipalities and prospective licensees during negotiations of host community agreements with social equity businesses.”
How these policies are written will directly impact the ability of entrepreneurs from communities most harmed by the war on drugs to fairly compete with well-financed multistate operators on the merits of their business rather than how much extra revenue they can provide the city and town through HCA CIFs, and we strongly believe they should be shaped and informed by experts in supporting equitable business practices and those most impacted by these policies. As such, we urge the CCC to participate in community listening sessions, host a robust number of public hearings, and actively engage the Massachusetts Cannabis Advisory Board to seek as much public input as possible.
To encourage municipalities to craft HCAs with applicants that meet their community’s needs without overly onerous restrictions, we urge the CCC to create a model HCA with the least restrictive, reasonable restrictions and fees possible, with information about where applicants and their host community may want to customize the terms. For example:
- The model HCA should include a sample waiver contemplated by S3096 to enable a host community to waive the host community agreement
- The model HCA should note that most communities have not reported significant documented costs and that there may be no need for a community impact fee, but that individual operators and hosts may identify potential costs that should be included.
- The model HCA should list sample hours of operation as 8 AM – 11 PM as allowed pursuant to 935 CMR 500.105(3)(e) but note that the parties may mutually agree to something more limited if appropriate
- The model HCA should include the minimum signage restrictions delineated in 935 CMR 500.105(3)(h) and 935 CMR 501.105(3)(h) but note that parties may agree to additional restrictions
- The model HCA could be structured as an agreement with a CIF for up to the first 2-5 years of operation but note that the agreement could be written to include a CIF for up to 8 years if deemed necessary by the municipality and applicant
- The model HCA should make clear that charitable contributions cannot be required
To further empower municipalities to encourage full participation in the cannabis industry, the model HCA document should also include the HCA waiver as well as a reminder of the to-be-drafted “procedures and policies for host communities to promote and encourage full participation in the regulated marijuana industry… during negotiations of host community agreements with social equity businesses, including, but not limited to, advisory guidelines, best practices and minimum acceptable policy standards.”
The drafters of Question 4 envisioned, and voters approved, a regulatory framework and application process centered on restorative justice and equity at every level, and we’ve been grateful that the CCC has taken that mandate to heart through its internal procedures and policies.
S3096 helps close a loophole in the original law’s intent, by requiring cities and towns to establish procedures and policies “to promote and encourage full participation in the regulated marijuana industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and enforcement,” requiring the CCC to set minimum standards for those procedures and policies, and establishing accountability for host communities that fail to establish or adhere to those policies.
Summary of Municipal Equity Provisions of S3096
For the convenience of the Commission and staff, we have excerpted the following relevant municipal equity sections of S3096 below:
“the commission shall promulgate regulations to establish minimum acceptable standards for host communities to promote and encourage full participation in the regulated marijuana industry by people from communities that have previously been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and enforcement and to positively impact those communities; provided, however, that a host community may establish procedures and policies beyond the minimum regulations established by the commission. A city or town that is not a host community shall establish such procedures and policies before entering into a host community agreement with a marijuana establishment or medical marijuana treatment center.”
“a host community shall establish initial procedures or policies required by paragraph (5) of subsection (d) of section 3 of chapter 94G of the General Laws not later than July 1, 2023.”
“The failure of a host community to establish procedures or policies pursuant to subsection (a) shall result in a monetary penalty to the host community equal to the annual total of community impact fees received from all marijuana establishments or medical marijuana treatment centers operating within the host community, to be deposited into the Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund established in section 14A of said chapter 94G.”
“A city or town shall adhere to cannabis control commission regulations promulgated pursuant to section 4 regarding procedures and policies for host communities to promote and encourage full participation in the regulated marijuana industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and enforcement and may establish additional procedures and policies to further this goal. The failure of a host community to adhere to such procedures and policies shall result in a monetary penalty to the host community equal to the annual total of community impact fees received from all marijuana establishments or medical marijuana treatment centers operating within the host community, to be deposited into the Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund established in section 14A of chapter 94G.”
Municipal Equity Recommendations
As the Municipal Equity Working Group and full Commission draft regulations to implement the new mandates and provisions of S3096, we urge you to center them on the following policy priorities:
- Establishing demonstrable and verifiable minimum standards for municipal procedures and policies
- Requiring and facilitating data collection, evaluation, and transparency to measure the effectiveness of the procedures and policies to empower the CCC and host communities to continue to improve them
- Removing barriers for equity businesses seeking opportunity in the industry
- Empowering cities and towns to understand the full range of potential procedures and policies they can implement
- Ensuring host communities are aware of and have the information they need to meet legislative deadlines and requirements
- Encouraging ongoing feedback from stakeholders and the public to further refine these regulations and sub-regulatory guidance
While the CCC has never articulated minimum standards for its own mandate to establish “procedures and policies to promote and encourage full participation in the regulated marijuana industry by people from communities that have previously been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and enforcement and to positively impact those communities” that can be easily adapted to host communities, its efforts reflect key elements that can be applied to local communities.
When reviewing the CCC’s procedures and policies to support equitable participation, combined with the Legislature and Governor’s leadership in establishing a new Cannabis Social Equity Fund, there are several key pillars for how government entities should support equity:
- Prioritization in licensing: The CCC’s prioritization of Economic Empowerment applicants and Social Equity Program participants in licensing and exclusivity periods for delivery and social consumption have already been a model for other cities and towns that have implemented their own exclusivity periods, licensing ratios, and other efforts to prioritize equity applicants.
- Capitalization: Municipalities like Boston, Brookline, and others have already led in creating loan and grant funds, and with the Commonwealth starting its one statewide Cannabis Social Equity Fund, encouraging municipal reinvestment of cannabis and other revenues into capitalizing equity business should be a key pillar of any local equity effort.
- Technical assistance: Providing assistance and training, similar to the efforts of the CCC’s Social Equity Program, is another key component of a comprehensive set of procedures and policies to encourage equitable participation.
- Positive Impact Plans & Diverse Hiring Plans: The CCC has supported community reinvestment and fostering a more diverse cannabis industry through the Social Equity Plans that it requires of all applicants. Any municipal procedures and policies to encourage full participation should meet or exceed this minimum requirement established by the CCC.
- Research & evaluation: The CCC has shown a demonstrated commitment to studying and evaluating the impacts of legalization, as well as specific regulatory efforts to advance equity such as the delivery exclusivity period. To ensure their efforts are making an impact, any municipal equity procedures and policies should include measurement and evaluation of impact and full, transparent disclosure of their results.
- Public education & outreach: Through staffing, its website, printed material, social media, listening sessions, trainings, and other paid and earned efforts, the CCC has strived to be accessible and responsive to the applicants and licensees most impacted by their policies and any host community should ensure they have procedures and policies to educate the community about their resources and opportunities for equity businesses.
While we recognize that the CCC will only establish minimum standards and that municipalities will establish the procedures and policies that work best for them, we urge the Commission – either through regulation or sub-regulatory guidance – to provide community leaders with a robust offering of solutions to consider.
While not comprehensive, EON is pleased to share the following potential suggestions for inclusion in such guidance:
- Create cannabis social equity grant and loan funds
- Dedicate cannabis tax revenue and make a significant early investment before cannabis revenue comes in to support equity businesses
- Fund technical assistance
- Waive community impact fees
- Waive licensing, inspection, and other municipal fees
- Property tax exemptions/credits for cannabis and other disadvantaged businesses
- Set equitable licensing ratios to ensure parity
- Create exclusivity periods for licensing to equity businesses
- Prioritize social equity businesses in the application review process
- More flexibility with buffer zones and variances for social equity businesses
- Invest in staff to help businesses navigate licensing (and support other agencies working with these businesses)
- Negotiate HCAs in public meetings
- Connect applicants to other resources
- Cannabis Social Equity Fund
- CCC Economic Empowerment Program
- CCC Social Equity Program
- Directory of pro bono or discounted service providers
- Other municipal, state, and private resources
- Invest in recruiting and retaining diverse staff
- Invest in diverse media, trade groups, professional associations, and nonprofits when advertising jobs, public notices, and other municipal marketing efforts
- Allow virtual community meetings, and provide virtual options for public hearings and meetings whenever possible
- Offer live translators, interpreters, and other accommodations
- Offer childcare and meals at public meetings and hearings and in government buildings
- Translate websites and printed materials
- Offer scheduling flexibility and variety for public meetings to try to accommodate working parents
In addition to guiding municipalities on how to best create their procedures and policies to encourage full participation, this is also an important opportunity for the CCC to review its own regulations to address two critical issues currently facing operators and applicants:
- Real estate requirements that force applicants to secure a lease and spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on property while navigating the local and state licensing process
- Municipal and other requirements that prevent successful local entrepreneurs from communities harmed by the war on drugs from selling their business
We recognize that both of these policy issues are complex and strongly encourage the Commission to continue to engage stakeholders in the community and through public listening sessions to craft the most thoughtful policies possible. However, to continue advancing those conversations and being to address the problems, we suggest Commissioners and staff consider the following:
- Alleviating real estate barriers to securing an HCA and advancing through the application process
- Include a requirement that all host communities shall accept an LOI in lieu of a lease in regulations setting minimum standards for municipal equity procedures and policies
- Create a pre-certification for all Economic Empowerment (EE), Social Equity Program (SEP) participants, and other disadvantaged businesses for all license types building on the model established for delivery and social consumption
- Ensuring EE and SEP operators have a fair opportunity to sell their license
- Include a requirement that all host communities shall not limit the ability of EE and SEP licensees from selling their license beyond the standards established by the CCC and Cannabis Social Equity Fund (if applicable) in regulations governing HCAs or municipal equity
- Convene potentially impacted stakeholders and other experts and advocates for a comprehensive discussion about reasonable requirements and restrictions for transferring a license from an EE or SEP business to another EE or SEP operator or any other operator, and related state and local licensing considerations
Social consumption has been a core component of Massachusetts cannabis law since the passage of Question 4, with authorized the CCC to:
“establish and provide for issuance of additional types or classes of licenses to operate marijuana-related businesses, including licenses that authorize only limited cultivation, processing, manufacture, possession or storage of marijuana or marijuana products, limited delivery of marijuana or marijuana products to consumers, licenses that authorize the consumption of marijuana or marijuana products on the premises where sold, licenses that authorize the consumption of marijuana at special events in limited areas and for a limited time and licenses intended to facilitate scientific research or education…”
The Legislature further amended the law in 2017 with An Act to Amend Chapter 334 of the Acts of 2016, which continues to grant the CCC the authority to develop regulations for the issuance of licenses for on-site consumption of marijuana or marijuana products:
“The commission shall promulgate regulations for the issuance of licenses for the consumption of marijuana or marijuana products on the premises where sold, which may include the issuance of licenses to social clubs or other entities, if such consumption is not visible to persons under 21 years of age and is not visible from a public place.”
Despite this legal authority, municipalities were unable to authorize the licensing of such establishments in their communities until a technical fix, which was included in S3096, creating citizen petition and municipal legislative processes for authorizing the siting of that license type in their community.
To its credit, the CCC moved forward under its statutory authority and responsibility to develop regulations creating a social consumption pilot program based on the input of former Chairman Steven J. Hoffman and former Commissioner Shaleen Title, “as well as local administrators, councilors, health and human service officials, and a municipal planner reviewed policies in other states as well as feedback from the Cannabis Advisory Board, the Massachusetts Municipal Association, and Commission staff.”
According to the CCC’s press release on the subject, “Under the pilot, a limited number of communities across the state would be authorized to host marijuana establishments in which adults ages 21 and older could consume cannabis on site. Licenses for primary-use locations and events sanctioned by a municipality would be exclusively available to licensed Microbusinesses and Craft Marijuana Cooperatives as well as certified Economic Empowerment Applicants and Social Equity Applicants for an initial period of two years.”
Summary of Social Consumption Provisions of S3096
While the most important aspect of S3096 related to social consumption is its mechanisms for municipal authorization of those licenses, which are not directly related to the CCC’s regulation of social consumption, EON has compiled the following relevant sections of the new law for the convenience of Commissioners and staff:
“Licensed marijuana social consumption establishment”, an establishment that is, at a minimum: (i) licensed by the Massachusetts cannabis control commission established under section 76 of chapter 10 for sale of marijuana and marijuana products for consumption on the premises pursuant to regulations promulgated pursuant to section 4 of chapter 94G; and (ii) authorized to allow social consumption of cannabis on the premises, where required, by the appropriate authority in the city or town in which the establishment is located; provided however, that tobacco shall not be sold, smoked, vaporized or consumed at said establishment.”
“(p) Nothing in this section shall prohibit the consumption of marijuana, including, but not limited to, marijuana consumption that involves the combustion, heating, vaporization or aerosolization of cannabis products, at a licensed marijuana social consumption establishment, in designated consumption areas and as permitted by cannabis control commission regulations promulgated pursuant to section 4 of chapter 94G.”
Social Consumption Recommendations
When drafting Question 4, the authors recognized that legal, regulated cultivation, manufacturing, and sale of cannabis was only the first step in protecting consumers from over-policing: while public, open-air consumption prohibited, consumers – particularly those who rent, live in public housing, or otherwise don’t own a home – deserve a safe, regulated space in which to consume the product.
In addition to meeting the needs of consumers, social consumption licenses also meet a market need, creating new and creative opportunities for entrepreneurs to participate in the industry.
We applaud current and former Commissioners and staff who undertook a very thoughtful and deliberative process to craft initial pilot program regulations back in 2019 and believe that there are strong elements that should be retained or strengthened, particularly preserving exclusivity for social consumption licenses to “to businesses controlled by and with majority ownership comprised of Economic Empowerment Priority Applicants or Social Equity Program Participants; Microbusinesses; and Craft Marijuana Cooperatives” and expanding the exclusivity period to five years to ensure licensees, municipalities, and the CCC have the runway they need to be responsive and adaptive, and for potential licensees to have time to potentially access support from the new Cannabis Social Equity Fund.
Given the enormous challenges of implementing S3096 and conducting a regulatory review, staffing up, maintaining or improving application and renewal processing, and studying and evaluating the CCC’s numerous initiatives, we further urge the CCC to consider updating the delivery exclusivity period to a five-year minimum as well to match social consumption and give those operators time to adapt to this new regulatory and market environment.
The CCC should also retain and expand the pre-certification process created by its social consumption pilot program regulations so that applicants for any license type can receive pre-certification as mentioned in our municipal equity recommendations.
We further appreciate that the CCC began to address how to safely allow social consumption of cannabis through means of combustion and vaping in its pilot program regulations; however, we remain concerned that as written, the current regulations could potentially make this license type impossible to implement from a business perspective.
We appreciate that the CCC investigated ventilation systems that would safely enable vaporization and other heat-induced non-combustion consumption methods but urge the CCC to update its social consumption regulations to reflect that the Legislature has exempted cannabis consumption from Massachusetts law prohibiting indoor smoking. To those ends, we further urge the CCC to engage operators, applicants, experts, and public health officials to determine the least restrictive means to protect consumers and workers while enabling indoor combustion and vaporization with adequate ventilation.
Question 4 explicitly authorized the CCC to create social consumption licenses for “special events in limited areas and for a limited time,” and subsequent revisions to the law preserve the CCC’s discretion to establish license types that meet its legislative requirements, including social consumption. Given that social consumption is a key element of cannabis events and the importance of ensuring that such consumption is done safely, and given the challenging environment to participate in the cannabis industry, particularly under this new social consumption license type, we urge the CCC to draft regulations creating a time-limited special event license type and to engage stakeholders and experts further in crafting those regulations in such a way that provides flexibility to businesses; protections to the public, workers, and consumers; and an enjoyable experience for consumers.
Finally, we recognize that the CCC must also determine whether to proceed with the pilot program as envisioned or whether to open up a statewide application and licensing process for applicants seeking a license in any community that authorizes such an establishment. Given how far the industry and the public have come in the last seven years since Question 4 was originally approved by voters and the volatile, challenging market conditions applicants face, we urge the CCC to remove the artificial and unnecessary barriers created by starting with a pilot program and take a long-term, statewide approach to social consumption as a permanent license class in this industry.
Thank you again to the full Commission and your dedicated staff for all of your efforts to foster an equitable cannabis industry, and for your accessibility and responsiveness to stakeholder and community feedback.
We look forward to reviewing and responding to your draft regulations and hope that you find these concerns and suggestions helpful as your working groups craft them.
Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or if we can ever be a resource. We’re happy to be a resource anytime and can be reached as follows:
- EON Co-Founder Shanel Lindsay: Shanel@masseon.com
- EON Policy Co-Chair Armani White: Armani@masseon.com
- EON Policy Co-Chair Kevin Gilnack: Kevin@masseon.com
Thank you again,
Equitable Opportunities Now!
Equitable Opportunities Now!