State & City Work to Advance Equity in Cannabis Industry

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In different ways the city and state are working to advance equity, diversity and opportunities for the marijuana industry.

The city recently announced five members to its newly established Cannabis Board.

"The purpose of Boston's Cannabis Board is to make sure our actions continue to match our values: supporting equity, diversity and local ownership in this new industry," said Mayor Marty Walsh via press release. "I'm proud to appoint these exceptional members to the Cannabis Board as we work to ensure every resident has access to the same opportunities in our growing city."

The new board was part of an ordinance created in November that established equitable regulation of the marijuana industry in the city.

Despite marijuana being legal in Massachusetts since December 2016, no dispensary has opened in Boston. Boston has signed 14 host agreements in 10 different neighborhoods, including with Core Empowerment in Jamaica Plain.

The five board members include: Kathleen Joyce, chair of Boston's Licensing Board;  Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH, former health commissioner for Boston, and a Senior Fellow at the de Beaumont Foundation; Darlene Lombos, Executive Director of Community Labor United; Lisa Holmes, who served as a Boston Police Department Superintendent, and has over 30 years of experience in public safety; and John Smith, Director of Programs for TSNE MissionWorks.

At the state level, state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, championed social equity legislation from the Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy, which includes a no interest loan fund for social equity entrepreneurs, according to a press release.

"This is both a critical and efficient step in delivering on the requirement that money from marijuana tax revenues be spent on restorative economic development for communities harmed by the war on drugs," said Chang-Diaz (D-2nd Suffolk). "Many talented small businesses and individuals are waiting in the wings, ready to provide value to the market and build wealth in their communities, if they can just get a foot in the door with start-up capital. Nobody’s asking for a hand-out here—these are loans—people just want to be able to compete on a level playing field. Right now, the unavailability of start-up capital is tilting the playing field steeply toward out-of-state corporations and millionaires.”