[dropcap class=”kp-dropcap”]T[/dropcap]he Boston City Council in Massachusetts voted on Nov. 21 to pass a bill that opens up eligibility for a cannabis industry social equity program.
According to The Boston Globe, the council voted 12-1 to introduce newly reformed approaches to small cannabis business owners and how to introduce diversity into the Boston cannabis industry. The council’s proposal has been sent to Mayor Martin J. Walsh who previously helped local legislators fine tune the ordinance’s final version, and has also noted that he plans to sign it.
Kim Janey was the councilor who sent the proposal to Mayor Walsh’s desk. “This is an important win for the city of Boston,” Janey said. “We are creating a process where there will be much more intention and focus on equity, and where there will be more clarity, more transparency, and more accountability. It is game-changing.”
This law will create a new committee, referred to as the Boston Cannabis Board, which will be in charge of reviewing cannabis license applicants through the following criteria: diversity /inclusion, employment plans, community support, location/safety/security and parking/transportation. The number of members set to be on the Boston Cannabis Board is still unknown, but it will be up to Mayor Walsh to determine the necessary number after the bill has been signed. “Together, we will ensure those who have been impacted hardest by the War on Drugs can benefit most from this new economic opportunity,” Walsh said in a statement.
The current application program is considered by many who have applied to be “opaque and subjective” and often provides an unfair advantage to certain applicants who have political connections, according to The Boston Globe. Janey stated at the meeting that the bill will help illuminate all details about applicants that are currently hidden or unknown, such as true owner identity. “This ordinance requires greater scrutiny of applicants so we know who the owners are and who the investors are and anyone with equity or a controlling interest in the company,” Janey stated. “We are requiring full disclosure so we can make sure that larger companies are not enlisting people of color to be the face of the company without any power or ownership.”
The state of Massachusetts celebrated its first anniversary of having legal recreational cannabis on Nov. 20, and since then consumers spent over $440,000 on cannabis products.