Boston Changes Up Cannabis Business Licensing Process to Promote Social Equity
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Boston Changes Up Cannabis Business Licensing Process to Promote Social Equity

The City Council voted to pass a bill to create the Boston Cannabis Board, which will license historically disadvantaged applicants seeking retail permits.

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November 21, 2019

The Boston City Council has approved a bill aimed at making the city’s cannabis industry more inclusive for historically disadvantaged applicants seeking dispensary licenses.

The proposal, which passed Nov. 20, creates the Boston Cannabis Board, a regulatory body charged with licensing eligible applicants, according to The Daily Free Press. The mayor’s office was previously responsible for cannabis licensing, the news outlet reported.

Board members will be appointed in the coming weeks, once Mayor Martin J. Walsh issues the executive order, the bill’s author, City Councilor Kim Janey, told The Daily Free Press.

The goal is to have disadvantaged entrepreneurs operate half or more of all cannabis dispensaries in the city, Janey added.

In order to qualify for preference in licensing, a retail applicant must meet at least three of six criteria established by the Boston Cannabis Board, which include demographic qualifications and whether the applicant has been disproportionately impacted by past cannabis policy, The Daily Free Press reported.

Massachusetts currently operates Economic Empowerment and Social Equity programs that offer historically disadvantaged groups preference in launching cannabis businesses in the state, according to the news outlet. Applicants residing in an “area of disproportionate impact” as outlined by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, those who have been arrested for cannabis-related offenses and those certified as Economic Empowerment Applicants are more likely to qualify for licensing preference under Boston’s new program, The Daily Free Press reported.

The new law also establishes a Boston Equity Fund to support equity applicants who ultimately win licenses, according to the news outlet, and money for the fund will come from the 3% municipal tax on Boston’s cannabis revenue.