The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission published Guidance on Equitable Cannabis Policies   for Municipalities, which contains recommendations on how municipalities can create an equitable marijuana industry.  The guidance is intended to help municipalities develop cannabis policies that are aligned with the Social Equity program, and promote an equitable and meaningful participation of persons dispproportionately affected by the enforcement of previous cannabis laws.  State law also provides the Commission with the authority to take remedial measures against a municipality if there is evidence of discrimination or barriers to entry in the regulated cannabis industry.

Massachusetts’ recommendations for creating an equitable cannabis industry include:

  • Allow various types of businesses:  Communities should consider allowing different types of license types that meet the strategic goals for the community.  For example, micro businesses and craft cooperatives promote small businesses.

  • Consider whether caps are necessary:  Offering limited cannabis business licenses in commercial parts of town prevents opportunities for small businesses.  

  • Zoning:  Communities should consider carefully whether to expand the 500 feet buffer around schools.

  • Host community agreements:  Clearly identify the licenses, permits and the process for operating a marijuana business.

  • Selection process:  Institute an objective, transparent selection process that prioritizes review for state-designated economic empowerment applicants. Municipalities should consider instituting preferences for state- designated Social Equity Program participants, or applications from companies owned by marginalized groups. A municipality should evaluate all applicant’s diversity plan and understand how the impact will have a positive impact on communities that have been disproportionately harmed by the enforcement of previous cannabis laws.

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