Overview of Massachusetts’ Equity in Cannabis Bill
Ever since Massachusetts legalized adult-use cannabis in 2017, the state has taken initiatives to create an equitable program. However, bill S.3096, known as the MA Equity in Cannabis Bill, passed at the end of July 2022. This single bill will generate some major changes to the existing laws, some of the most extensive changes to occur since recreational cannabis was initially legalized in the state. Here is a closer look at the MA Equity in Cannabis Bill and how it could affect the growing cannabis industry in MA.
The Existing Cannabis Social Equity Program in MA
The Social Equity Program (SEP) was designed by the Cannabis Control Commission to ensure individuals who were most affected by the War on Drugs or marijuana prohibition were given the best opportunity to succeed in the legal cannabis business. The SEP offers interested and qualifying individuals free education, training, and tools to get started in the cannabis business.
While the SEP does not guarantee licensure for the individual, it does grant them an expedited license review. Individuals who enter the cannabis industry as social equity participants also have access to other perks, such as:
- Waived fees for the license application
- Waived monthly program fees for METRC seed-to-sale tracking
- Half-off annual fees for maintaining a license in the cannabis business
- Exclusive access to certain types of limited license types, such as delivery-only licenses
In order to be qualified to participate in the SEP program, applicants must meet specific criteria. For example, one way to qualify is by having a conviction for a marijuana-related offense and being an MA resident for at least a year.
What is the Massachusetts Equity in Cannabis Bill?
In short, the MA Equity in Cannabis Bill is designed to specifically promote more diversity in the state’s existing cannabis industry. While other components are in the bill, such as the basic framework for potential cannabis consumption sites down the road, the primary focus of the bill is dedicated to social equity. Most importantly, the bill addresses building a viable social equity trust fund and reading communities that support these businesses.
The Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund
The Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund is to be funded by revenue collected from the existing Marijuana Regulation Fund. According to the bill, up to 15 percent of the total revenue collected will be allocated to this fund. The money is meant to be used to help disproportionately affected individuals find funding to start legitimate cannabis businesses. For example, the funds may be used to offer loans and grants to prospective entrepreneurs who fit the criteria for the social equity program or who reside in areas that have been harmed by cannabis prohibition.
Incentives for Communities to Host Social Equity Businesses
Another important element of bill S.3096 is the effort to ensure communities that host social equity cannabis businesses gain some reward from doing so. In short, the bill states that municipalities that host cannabis retailers that meet the social equity criteria will receive one percent of the total revenue of that business.
Social Equity is at the Heart of Plymouth Armor Group
At Plymouth Armor Group, we have a strong focus on social equity. From the beginning, we have remained on a mission to build an equitable company that gives back to the communities served. From who we employ to who we accept as clients, we remain true to this commitment on every level of our operation. If you would like to know more about Plymouth Armor Group, be sure to take a look at our story.