Boston City Council to Review Cannabis Social Equity Ordinance

Boston’s City Council will review a recommendation from the Committee on Government Operations to adopt an ordinance that implements the city’s cannabis social equity program tomorrow night. Boston last discussed the social equity program at a workshop on June 5, 2019. The ordinance stayed in the Committee on Government Operations since it was introduced on March 20, 2019. The revised ordinance incorporates feedback from the initial meetings.

The Social Equity Program will take effect immediately upon approval. The revised ordinance will establish an independent board that will oversee the community involvement, the application process, and community host agreements. Boston will also establish a Boston Equity Fund that will offer support to the Social Equity Program participants. Licenses that are granted under the program are considered a personal privilege. The Cannabis Board must approve all transfers.

What changed?

  • The social equity program will be open to persons who were convicted of marijuana-related offenses.

  • The local residency requirement was increased from five (5) years to seven (7) years.

  • Persons with Asian descent now qualify.

  • The income threshold has changed to at or below 100% of the median income in Boston.

  • The Boston Cannabis Equity Program will provide technical assistance to qualifying persons including help with the application process, legal compliance, accounting, recruiting and other resources.

What are the criteria for qualifying for the Social Equity Program?

  • A person who lived in an area that is disproportionally impacted for five (5) of the last ten (10) years.

  • A person who was convicted of a marijuana-related crime between 1971 and 2016, or their child, and has lived in Boston for five (5) of the last ten (10) years.

  • A person who has lived in Boston for the last seven (7) years.

  • A person of Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino or Asian descent.

  • A person with an annual income that is at or below 100% of the area median income.

  • A person who is certified as an Economic Empowerment applicant by the Cannabis Control Commission.

What are the application requirements?

  • Applicants must submit the names must provide the names and contact information for all owners, controlling persons, associated persons and investors.

  • The address for the proposed business along with the owner’s permission to use the site for a cannabis-related business.

  • The applicant must be an Economic Empowerment or Social Equity Program participant.

What are the licensing criteria?

  • Diversity and Inclusion Plan (25%)

  • Employment Plan (20%) – The plan for hiring and offering competitive wages to Boston employees who are diverse or have a criminal record.

  • Community Feedback / Public Support (20%) – The city is seeking letters from local supporters including city officials and community members.

  • Location, Safety Security (20%) – The plan for providing on-site security and preventing children from accessing cannabis products.

  • Parking / Transportation Plan (15%) – Access to public transportation and on-site parking. Plan for transporting cannabis products and money.

Next Steps

Persons interested in applying for Boston’s Social Equity Program should review the ordinance and start looking for a property. Participants at the earlier workshops indicated that landlords will not lease property for cannabis businesses. Finding property in a supportive community that fulfills the parking and transportation requirements will provide a competitive advantage to early applicants.

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