New HCA and municipal equity rules will create new opportunities for communities harmed by the war on drugs
WORCESTER – Advocates from Equitable Opportunities Now (EON) are thanking the members of the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) for listening to the call of cannabis equity advocates and implementing many of their demands in updated regulations approved to be filed with the Secretary of the Commonwealth in a 3-1 vote late Friday afternoon.
“These regulations show that meaningful policy change can happen with an inclusive and transparent process, one that actively seeks out and centers the voices of those living with our policies,” said EON Co-Founder Shanel Lindsay. “These regulations are a huge step toward equity and opportunity for those our marijuana policies have been harming for decades. We thank Acting Chair Concepcion for her effective leadership and all of the Commissioners for their thoughtful deliberations throughout this process.”
EON championed the passage of An Act Relative to Equity in the Cannabis Industry (Chapter 180 of the Acts of 2022) last year, empowering the Commission to set policies requiring cities and towns to prioritize equity applicants and crack down on harmful host community agreements and local licensing practices that had frozen many entrepreneurs from previously harmed communities out of the burgeoning cannabis industry. While developing the regulations to implement this law, the Commission hosted and attended listening sessions throughout the state, including a public session hosted by EON at which dozens of social equity stakeholders outlined the many policy changes needed to overcome obstacles to true equity in the industry.
EON’s feedback was cited at least three times during the deliberations:
- Commissioner Nurys Camargo, who holds the social justice seat on the Commission, read a suggestion by EON into the record earlier this week expanding the possible equitable relief remedies available to marijuana businesses whose host communities have decided to terminate their relationship and a suggestion to allow for the waiving of change of ownership fees was incorporated into the final rules.
- Commissioner Kimberly Roy on Thursday read an email from EON into the record urging the Commission to retain a requirement that communities reserve at least half of their local approvals for equity businesses if they raise their caps and suggesting a waiver for those unable to attract equity businesses. The Commission adopted a suggestion from EON to allow a waiver process and retained the rule in the final package on Friday.
- Acting Chair Concepcion on Friday read a suggestion from EON into the record to strengthen regulations governing how marijuana establishments can satisfy their required plans to positively impact communities harmed by the war on drugs, in part, by donating to the state’s new cannabis social equity grant and loan fund.
“Commissioners demonstrated a true openness to public feedback and their final results reflect that they listened to those most impacted by these policies and centered their concerns,” said EON Policy Co-Chair Kevin Gilnack. “On behalf of EON and our grassroots supporters throughout the Commonwealth, I want to thank each Commissioner and the hardworking Commission staff for all of their efforts to implement this law and create a more equitable industry.”
Other victories that EON is celebrating in the regulations include:
- Establishing a strong framework for ensuring that Community Impact Fees – should they be assessed at all – are based upon actual, documented costs that the Commission will review for accuracy.
- Prohibiting the improper financial terms that many municipalities had included within Host Community Agreements.
- Additional requirements to support social equity applicants as they navigate the municipal approval process, including: empowering applicants to know their full rights in the process; the providing of language interpreters; prohibitions on delays, coercion, and other bad-faith tactics; and requirements that flexible terms be offered to overcome barriers traditionally faced by equity applicants.
- Establishing a simple process by which municipalities may waive the use of Host Community Agreements altogether.
- Requiring municipalities to set and publish goals and results for their inclusion of equity businesses in their local marketplace.
- Instituting transparency around a municipality’s scoring process for license applicants.
Equitable Opportunities Now (EON)’s mission is to ensure equitable ownership and employment opportunities for Black and Brown communities who have been targeted by the War on Drugs. We are seeking general support funding for our constituent-led statewide legislative and regulatory advocacy campaigns to create equitable economic opportunities in MA’s cannabis industry. Learn more at www.masseon.com
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- 9/2/23: Equitable Opportunities Now urges Cannabis Control Commission to take bold action to support disadvantaged businesses
- 7/6/23: Former Commissioner Shaleen Title’s Regulatory Review Public Comments to EON’s Listening Session
- 7/3/23: Advisory: EON to host Virtual CCC Regulatory Review Listening Session on Thurs. 7/6 at 1 p.m.
- 6/22/23: Join us to share your thoughts with Cannabis Control Commissioners and Staff on Tuesday, 7/6 at 1 PM
- 6/15/23: Take our CCC Regulatory Review Survey!
- 5/31/23: Join EON’s CCC Regulatory Review Planning Session!
- 4/29/23: Public Comments to Cannabis Control Commission HCA Reform, Municipal Equity, & Social Consumption Working Groups
- 9/27/22: Massachusetts needs YOU to get cannabis equity right
- 8/12/22: Cannabis Confidential: Lawmakers pass landmark legislation enhancing equity in the industry | Worcester Magazine
- 8/11/22: Community leaders, advocates praise historic equity provisions in new cannabis law signed by Gov. Baker
- 8/1/22: Equitable Opportunities Now, The Boston Foundation and other advocates praise compromise cannabis equity bill
- 7/25/22: Cannabis equity call to action & career fair opportunity
- 7/21/22: Gov. Charlie Baker calls cannabis equity bill “important,” says “I certainly hope it gets to my desk”
- 7/15/22: Time is running out to ensure cannabis equity is fully funded!
- 6/28/22: More than 20 community leaders call on legislative leaders, Conference Committee to fully fund cannabis equity program and pass reform bill before end of session
- 5/17/22: URGENT: Ask your Local House Rep to Support Cannabis Equity
- 4/26/22: TOMORROW: Join our Rally for Cannabis Equity and Be Heard!
- 4/6/22: Take Action in Support of Cannabis Social Equity
- 11/20/21: Take Action for Social Equity in Massachusetts
- 11/7/20: See you at the Rally for Cannabis Equity on 11/9!