Boston overhauling pot assessment procedure to close race gap

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BOSTON (AP) — Boston is overhauling its procedure of reviewing marijuana companies to increase involvement of minority entrepreneurs in Massachusetts’ burgeoning pot sector.

The City Council on Wednesday authorized an ordinance calling for the creation of an independent Cannabis Board to oversee regional assessment of potential marijuana companies.

The proposal by Councilor Kim Janey also calls for Boston to guarantee that at least half of its marijuana licenses go to corporations from communities impacted by the war on drugs.

And it creates Massachusetts’ 1st regional fund supporting minority-owned marijuana corporations, according to Janey and other city officials.

Boston’s new Equity Fund will present certified organization technical help. It will be financed via regional sector charges.

Janey stated the target of the overhaul is to make Boston’s “opaque and vague” marijuana organization application procedure much more transparent.

She stated it also delivers “economic justice” to marginalized communities that have suffered for years below harsh drug enforcement policies and have so far not benefited from the profitable legal pot sector.

“The proof is clear: without having intentional concentrate on equity, the status quo will prevail,” Janey stated as the council weighed her proposal. “Larger and wealthier corporations will lock out smaller sized, diverse corporations from our communities.”

The ordinance will not influence any of the Host Neighborhood Agreements the city has currently signed with 13 potential marijuana companies.

Activists across the nation have complained that black and Latino organization owners have struggled to break into the legal marijuana trade, normally since of prior, drug-connected criminal records.

Considering the fact that Massachusetts voters authorized recreational marijuana use and sales in 2016, much more than 200 licenses have been issued statewide, according to the state Cannabis Manage Commission. Only 10 are deemed owned by minorities or disadvantaged populations.

Massachusetts’ 1st two retail pot shops opened their doors Nov. 20, 2018, in Northampton and Leicester. 1 year later, there are 33 retailers operating statewide, but none is in Boston.

Boston’s ordinance sets a national regular for regional vetting of potential marijuana companies, recommended Shaleen Title, a member of Massachusetts’ Cannabis Manage Commission that difficulties the state licenses expected for opening a marijuana organization.

“There’s transparency, there are criteria that are fair, there are individuals in charge who are accountable for producing these choices, and there’s economic help obtainable,” she stated right after observing Wednesday’s vote in City Hall. “Those 4 issues build a model that other cities and towns really should appear to.”

Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh, whose workplace oversees the marijuana assessment procedure, commended Janey for her efforts and stated he’ll sign the measure into law. He’s also anticipated to concern an executive order generating the cannabis oversight board in the coming days.

“Together, we will guarantee these who have been impacted hardest by the War on Drugs can advantage most from this new financial chance,” he stated in a statement. “Since the get started of this new sector, we have worked to guarantee the procedure is fair, transparent and equitable for all who want to participate in it. “

The proposed overhaul also comes as federal prosecutors are investigating regional corruption in Massachusetts’ cannabis sector.

A federal grand jury has issued subpoenas to communities across the state, like Boston, looking for data about their compensation agreements with marijuana corporations.

U.S. Lawyer Andrew Lelling and other folks have voiced concern about the possible for abuse in the negotiation procedure involving communities and corporations, which is largely accomplished out of public view.

Lelling’s workplace lately charged Fall River’s outgoing Mayor Jasiel Correia with extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from marijuana corporations looking for to operate in his city close to the Rhode Island state line.

Boston.com Employees Writer Christopher Gavin contributed to this report.



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