BOSTON—About 100 Massachusetts residents who have been disproportionately impacted by previous marijuana prohibition participated in the state’s first training course for entrepreneurs as part of the Cannabis Control Commission (Commission)’s Social Equity Program last week.
Individuals who are seeking Marijuana Establishment licensure or ownership met at the State House on Friday, October 18 to receive an overview of state law and regulations as well as insight into Massachusetts’ ownership and control rules from Commission staff. Training will continue into April and consist of fourteen courses led by private vendors and nonprofit organizations that have been contracted by the Commission.
“Social Equity Program participants are on their way to opening their own legal cannabis businesses in Massachusetts,” Cannabis Control Commissioner Shaleen Title said. “Although achieving a state license could never redress the harm caused by the War on Drugs, I am proud our agency has delivered a program that moves toward fairness by providing tools applicants need to succeed in the Commonwealth’s highly competitive marijuana marketplace. We are excited to see what the future holds for these entrepreneurs.”
The Commission launched the Social Equity Program in accordance with a state mandate that requires full participation in Massachusetts’ regulated industry by communities that have been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition. David Rogers, House Chairman of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy, offered participants welcoming remarks on Friday.
“It is with great enthusiasm that I participated in the kickoff of this Social Equity programming,” Chairman Rogers said. “We mark the start of a new chapter in Massachusetts that is centered around inclusion for all in the cannabis industry. One of the main reasons I was one of a few elected officials to support and campaign for legalization is the disproportionate harm caused to communities of color by society’s dramatically failed prohibition approach. This Social Equity programming is an important step toward remedying some of these past harms and it is my great hope that — through these trainings and services — an aspiring generation of entrepreneurs and others will gain a foothold in this new legal marketplace.”
The state’s free, statewide technical assistance and training program provides eligible participants skills, education, and mentorship to help gain entry into the regulated cannabis industry. It is intended to level the playing field for individuals who have either lived in a Commission-designated area of disproportionate impact and meet a specific income requirement, have a previous drug conviction, or have a spouse or parent whose drug conviction has impacted their lives.
The Program is divided into four teaching tracks that will offer exclusive learning opportunities to participants throughout the Commonwealth. Six vendors have been contracted by the Commission to deliver curricula that focus on competency areas such as workforce development, accounting and sales forecasting, business plan creation, farming best practices, identifying funds and raising capital, navigating municipal processes, tax prediction, legal compliance, and more.
Along with the entrepreneur track that kicked off Friday, future cohorts will receive teaching and guidance for re-entry and entry-level employment, core marijuana establishment job functions, and ancillary roles that support cannabis businesses. The other three program tracks will start training this winter.
In addition to private educational opportunities, Social Equity Program participants will be eligible for fee waivers when they apply for a license and have exclusive access to delivery-only and social consumption license types when they become available in the Commonwealth for at least two years.
For more information about the Social Equity Program, contact the Commission’s Director of Community Outreach Shekia Scott at 617-701-8400 or CannabisEquity@mass.gov, visit MassCannabisControl.com/EquityPrograms, or follow the Commission on Facebook and Twitter.