Massachusetts Governor Signs Cannabis Social Equity Bill

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill Thursday to amend the state’s marijuana laws, authorizing the addition of a social equity clause and other changes to cannabis regulations in the Bay States. Baker approved all but one of his bill’s provisions. This is the first overhaul of cannabis regulation in the state since a voter approved his recreational cannabis use in 2016.

In a statement, Baker said he supported “many of the provisions this bill adopts to improve regulation of the cannabis industry” and “the bill’s efforts to expand social equity business opportunities.”

The compromise bill, passed by state legislators in the early hours of August 1, aims to increase diversity in Massachusetts’ cannabis industry by creating a new Social Equity Trust Fund. This program will receive 15% of the proceeds from the Marijuana Control Fund. The fund is funded by cannabis taxes, application and licensing fees, and penalties imposed on licensed cannabis companies. Funds from the Social Equity Trust Fund will provide grants and loans to future cannabis business owners, focusing on communities of color and those harmed by the country’s failed prohibition policies. devoted to

“This law creates a playing field where, until now, wealthy businesses have been able to buy their way through the licensing process, keeping out too many local small business owners and black and brown entrepreneurs. readjust the Senator Sonia Chandias said, Co-Chair of the State Legislature’s Cannabis Policy Committee. “The reforms and funding we’ve worked so hard for will be a game-changer and bring Massachusetts back to being a leading state for racial justice in economic policy on cannabis. I am very grateful to the many community members and grassroots leaders who have helped me along the way.”

At a Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) meeting on Thursday before Baker signed the law into law, Commissioner Ava Callender Concepcion told her fellow commissioners, “Today, the importance of this moment and the magnitude of this impact. Take a moment to recognize your quirks.”

“I’m not saying this single law will solve all the problems facing the cannabis industry, but it’s a big step forward. “This is monumental.”

Cannabis activists praise new law

Cannabis advocate Chanel Lindsay, who campaigned in support of the 2016 ballot measure that legalized marijuana in Massachusetts, said governors and lawmakers “will be using this critical and expired grant and loan fund.” We made history,” he said.

Equitable Opportunities co-founder Lindsay said, “This bill is an important step in undoing the evils of bans and over-policing, helping families of color create jobs in their communities and empower generations. It will provide an important pathway to create wealth beyond the now.

The bill also gives the CCC authority to review and approve host community agreements that must be developed in local jurisdictions where cannabis businesses are located. The contract will also be limited to his first eight years of operation and will set limits on the fees required of the company. Community impact fees are limited to 3% of a company’s gross revenue and must be “reasonably related” to the costs incurred by local governments to implement cannabis legalization and regulation.

In addition, the law allows cannabis companies to be treated as legitimate businesses under state tax law and receive standard business deductions denied under federal tax law. Sieh Samura, owner and CEO of his Yamba Market dispensary in Cambridge and an advocate for minority representation in cannabis, said businesses in the industry could face tax burdens of up to 75%. I was.

“It raises the barrier to entry and creates many obstacles for entrepreneurs, especially those with less resources.” He said.

Samura said the new law would make taxes fairer and oversee tougher competition for host community contracts, while providing funding to help minority entrepreneurs get into business. added.

“We have to see the money start to flow. The sooner the money starts to flow, the sooner the impact of the number and diversity of equity businesses in the larger market will be seen,” said Samra.

Other sections of the Baker-approved bill include provisions to simplify the expungement of past weed-related convictions and a process for local communities to vote for approval of cannabis consumption lounges.

Governor Nyx exploring a medical pot at school

Baker has vetoed a provision in the law that studies the feasibility of allowing students to use cannabis-based remedies in schools. Under that section, the CCC, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Department of Public Health made recommendations to “eliminate barriers and expand facilities for owning, managing, and consuming medical marijuana and public and private schools.” You will be instructed to research and create a Among students with valid medical cannabis cards.

In a statement to lawmakers, Baker said the written measures were “highly prescriptive and the agency responsible for producing the research should not consider whether such permission would be desirable, but instead consider whether such permission would be desirable. It makes clear that we must identify ways to make medical marijuana widely available in the United States.”

“The voter initiatives that legalized medical marijuana in 2012 and 2016 included strong measures to keep marijuana out of K-12 schools and schoolchildren. It clearly states that the use of marijuana on the premises is not permitted under any circumstances,” Baker added. “The research proposed in Section 26 clearly runs counter to these important and well-established protections and ignores voters’ explicit intent to legalize marijuana use, so this portion of the bill cannot be approved.”

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