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City Council votes for equity in the marijuana industry

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City Council

The Council voted 12-1 to pass an ordinance establishing equitable regulation of the cannabis industry in the City of Boston.

The cannabis industry is likely to become a multi-million dollar industry, with early sales already generating millions of dollars. To date, no certified minority-owned businesses have been licensed by the state’s Cannabis Control Commission. During this week’s Council meeting, the Council voted 12-1 to pass an ordinance establishing equitable regulation of the cannabis industry in the City of Boston.

The goal of the ordinance is to promote and encourage equity in the marijuana industry with full participation of residents from communities that have previously been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and enforcement and to positively impact those communities, so that they benefit from this industry. Many parts of Boston have been identified by the Cannabis Control Commission as disproportionately impacted.

The language creates a new category of municipal equity applicants, which would include companies with 51% or more ownership stake from three or more of the following criteria:

  • a person who has resided in an area of disproportionate impact for at least 7 of the past 10 years
  • a Boston resident who has a past arrest or conviction for possession, sale, manufacturing or cultivation of marijuana between 1971-2016 who has been a resident of Boston for the past 5 years
  • someone who has resided in Boston for at least the past 5 years
  • someone who is of Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, or Asian descent
  • someone whose annual household income is at or below 100% of the area median income, or
  • someone who is certified by the Cannabis Control Commission as an Economic Empowerment Applicant.

The City of Boston would require a 1:1 ratio of equity firms as defined by the above criteria compared to other businesses. The inclusion of an independent municipal cannabis commission was removed from the ordinance through an agreement with the Mayor that there will be a separate Executive Order creating that commission soon.