Massachusetts approves new marijuana diversity bill

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The state is advancing its cannabis market to become more refined

Massachusetts seems to be a state that has been making some significant legislative moves lately. Among them is compromise legislation that aims to make the legal marijuana industry grow and become more equitable. After nearly a month of negotiations, the measure emerged just before midnight Sunday and was able to pass quickly through the Senate and House.

S3096 has a pretty clear goal; to promote greater diversity in the legal cannabis industry. In addition, it seeks to lay the groundwork for cities and towns to green light cannabis consumption sites and increase oversight of the host community agreements that marijuana businesses must enter into with municipalities.

Under the measure’s provision, 15% of the money in the Marijuana Regulation Fund would be directed toward a new Social Equity Trust Fund. Through that revenue, loans and grants could be made available so that populations disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs could have a greater share of the cannabis market.

Through the legislation, the Cannabis Control Commission would also now have sufficient authority to review and approve host community agreements before a company obtains its final license. Senate Cannabis Policy Committee Chairwoman Sonia Chang-Díaz said this compromise measure becomes essential to address certain issues facing the marijuana industry today.

“It will re-balance the playing field where, so far, wealthy corporations have been able to buy their way through the licensing process and yet, too many local small businesses and Black and brown entrepreneurs have been locked out of the industry,” Chang-Díaz said. Charlie Baker, the state’s governor, said he was sure this was the way things were going to work out. Now with the measure on his desk, the signing is expected to become a reality in the next few hours.