Massachusetts House approves bill to increase host community oversight

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State regulators in Massachusetts are going to be more involved in how cities accept cannabis businesses

In Massachusetts, there have been a few controversial cases of town representatives taking advantage of the fledgling cannabis market. In exchange for approving cannabis licenses, they were forcibly demanding unnecessary favors in return, and state regulators aren’t too happy. The Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) tried to take action on the matter, but faced a roadblock when trying to review the contracts between the towns and cities where the cannabis businesses wanted to open a shop. This could soon change, though, as the House passed a bill yesterday afternoon that would give authority to the CCC to supervise these contracts, commonly known as community agreements.

In the current process of obtaining a license to run a marijuana business, these community agreements are a must and need to be signed before the application gets to the CCC to be considered. The extension of these contracts can’t be more than five years, and the fee received by the town or city can’t surpass 3% of gross sales.

“The major piece that we were trying to do today was to try to get a clarification,” said House Speaker Robert DeLeo. “We heard from some of the folks that there was no clarification as to enforcement or where they could go if they felt they were wrong, and some felt that the legislation as is right now wasn’t clear enough.”

This bill comes with a few changes to the application process. First, the CCC will now have the power to act as a regulator between the two parties and to enforce the agreements. This has been a major concern from the agency, as well as the applicants, for a few years now. Another provision in this bill will order municipalities to lift the requirement of having a host community agreement to advance further.