Massachusetts House and Senate both passed cannabis compromise legislation on Sunday that would set up a more equitable environment in the legal marijuana industry. Senate Bill 3096 is aimed at advancing diversity in the sector and regulating the host community agreement (HCA) between cannabis companies and municipalities, reported NBC Boston.
If the bill turns into law it would allocate 15% of the money in the Marijuana Regulation Fund, which is fueled by the state’s cannabis excise tax, various operational fees and industry penalties, to a new Social Equity Trust Fund. The task of the new fund would be to provide grants and loans to people from communities most affected by the drug war who are now interested in joining the cannabis industry.
According to Sonia Chang-Díaz, Senate chair of the Cannabis Policy Committee, the compromise bill “takes on some of the industry’s biggest issues.”
“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,” she said.
With procedural votes, the bill should reach Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk on Monday where he is expected to sign it.
The new measure would also make the Cannabis Control Commission the main authority over assessing and authorizing host community agreements before a cannabis operation receives its final license. The legislation also details that a community impact fee in an HCA can’t surpass 3% of gross sales and should be “reasonably related to the costs imposed upon the municipality by the operation of the marijuana establishment.”
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