Cannabis panel hopes to get involved with Mass. Permits

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The panel wants to be able to take a closer look at agreements between shops and towns

Cities and towns in Massachusetts have the ability to control how marijuana companies become part of their landscapes. The companies must receive permission from the local governing bodies in order to set up shop, but there has been some concern that those entities have been abusing their authority. Now, the state’s Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) is hoping it will receive more control in order to review the pacts established between the governments and the marijuana companies.

The CCC believes that some cities and towns have been demanding excessive payments in order to allow the marijuana companies to operate within their borders. They argue that the jurisdictions have forced language into contracts that goes well beyond the legal limits in order to make the deals more attractive and favorable to the local governments.

Yesterday, the CCC voted to approach the state legislature to ask for more authority to be able to review the agreements. The vote was approved 4-1, with Commissioner Jennifer Flanagan showing opposition to the vote because she doesn’t want to force lawmakers into taking certain decisions.

According to state law, the amount paid to local governments by marijuana companies wanting to operate in their jurisdictions is capped. The company gives as much as 3% of its annual revenue to the government to offset the costs of hosting a business, but municipalities have begun charging more, arguing that the law does not prevent them from negotiating other fees or from asking for donations for local charities.

According to CCC Chairman Steven Hoffman, “[The practice] has been a barrier to entry for some of the communities and the people that we’ve been trying to help. There’s a problem here.”

The same commission voted 4-1 last August against reviewing the agreements. At that time, the commissioners believed that the law didn’t allow them to get involved, but it has now reconsidered and wants to become more active in the contract process.