Check out Chris Lisinski’s coverage of EON Co-Founder Shanel Lindsay’s comments about the historic new cannabis equity law recently signed by Gov. Charlie Baker in the State House News (courtesy of 7News)…
One of the most persistent problems cited is a lack of diversity in the field, even though Massachusetts lawmakers required that equity and inclusion be baked into the legal framework.
To combat that, the legislation would create a new Social Equity Trust Fund and seed it with 15 percent of the money in the Marijuana Regulation Fund, which itself is funded by revenue from the marijuana excise tax, application and licensing fees, and industry penalties.
The social equity trust fund would make grants and loans available to prospective marijuana entrepreneurs with a focus on supporting people of color and other populations disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs.
Shanel Lindsay, a cannabis advocate who worked on the 2016 initiative petition, said Baker and lawmakers “have made history with this vital — and overdue — grant and loan fund.”
“This bill is an important step forward in undoing the harms of prohibition and over-policing and will provide an important path for families of color to create jobs in their community and generate generational wealth,” Lindsay, who is co-founder of Equitable Opportunities Now, said in a statement.
The legislation also bulks up the CCC with new authority to examine and approve host community agreements, which marijuana businesses are required to enter into with the cities and towns where they do business.
Those agreements will only be permitted for the first eight years a marijuana company is in business. “Community impact fees” that businesses pay to the city or town will not be allowed to surpass 3 percent of an establishment’s gross sales and must be “reasonably related” to costs the municipality faces as a result of the marijuana business’s operation.
“This law will rebalance the playing field, where so far wealthy corporations have been able buy their way through the licensing process and too many local, small business owners and Black and brown entrepreneurs have been locked out,” Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz, a Boston Democrat who co-chairs the Legislature’s Cannabis Policy Committee, said. “The reforms and funding we fought so hard for will be game changers, putting Massachusetts back among the leading states for racial justice in our economic policy on cannabis. I’m so grateful to the many community members and grassroots leaders who came together and held the state’s feet to the fire to make this happen.”