Senate passes bill to improve equity in cannabis industry
In Massachusetts the Senate has passed legislation that would make grants and loans available to help provide start-up funding to equity businesses in the cannabis industry. These grants and loans would be administered through a Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund to individuals certified as economic empowerment priority applicants or social equity program participants. Funding for the program will come from an annual 10 percent contribution from the Marijuana Regulation Fund where millions are brought in each year from excise taxes on cannabis purchases.
The bill also takes steps to reform the Host Community Agreement (HCA) process. It clarifies what is and is not allowed within a HCA and permits a city or town to waive the requirement for a HCA altogether if it so chooses. For example, the HCA could not contain additional payments or obligations, including, but not limited to, monetary payments, in kind contributions and charitable contributions by the applicant to the host community or any other organization.
The law also establishes a local voter initiative petition process to facilitate local approval for the consumption of marijuana on the premises where sold. An alternative process was established that allows for cities or towns to permit onsite consumption by ordinance or by-law.