Massachusetts committee advances bill

Host agreement, equity, on-site consumption bill advances

The Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy has backed legislation that seeks to fix some of the most pressing issues facing the Massachusetts cannabis industry. The bill (S.2660/H.4440) would reform the host community agreement process, create social equity funding, and establish a process that allows voters to petition opt-in to social consumption within their municipality.

For years entrepreneurs, advocates, and lawyers have wanted the Cannabis Control Commission to review host community agreements (HCAs). The bill would require that HCAs be certified as in compliance by the Commission before approving any license.

The bill creates a Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund for the purpose of making grants and loans, including no-interest loans and forgivable loans, to social equity program participants and economic empowerment priority applicants. The trust will be funded by a one-time $10 million transfer from the General Fund.

Finally, the social consumption component fixes an error that has prevented these establishments from getting off the ground. The law says that petitions for social consumption must conform with the state laws around local initiative petitions. The bill directs Secretary of State Bill Galvin to prepare a form for citizens and local officials to use to facilitate the opt-in process to authorize social consumption.

The bill is now before both the House and Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

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