Massachusetts legislators made a bold move when they instituted a new policy that would allow those who have been victimized by the “War on Drugs” to work in the industry. However, they haven’t gotten a lot of applications from marginalized folks.
According to Marijuana Business Daily, only five future business owners have turned in applications for the new 123 social equity permits in the state so far. This fact is not entirely surprising, given that many minority groups such as people of color and women face other barriers to entering the industry. “Money is the biggest issue,” Rep. Aaron Vega told Marijuana Business Daily, explaining that the cost can be up to $50,000-$60,000 just to apply for a cannabis business license in Massachusetts.
Many believe this is the state intentionally putting applications out of the reach of those with fewer resources. However, according to the Cannabis Control Commission in Massachusetts, if you do make the entry fee, there are many perks. “Applicants who qualify will receive ongoing technical assistance and exclusive training from selected vendors as well as certain fee waivers,” the webpage explains.
“As the Commonwealth moves rapidly toward the beginning of adult-use cannabis sales, we are obligated by both the law and our values to ensure that the communities previously targeted by the War on Drugs have a fair shot to participate in this market,” Commissioner Shaleen Title said according to the Cannabis Control Commission. “Now that the equity program is in place, I look forward to a wide range of vendors providing deserving applicants with skills, connections and resources to help them thrive in the cannabis industry.”
While the state may have the right idea about getting more people involved in the industry, it’s clear they still have a lot of work to do before this can become a reality.