Controversial host community agreements have compromised the program’s swift and equitable implementation — tell state legislators it’s time for the Cannabis Control Commission to review and regulate these agreements!
There are now more than 30 cannabis retail stores operating in Massachusetts, and the state recorded over $400 million in sales in 2019. These are the first retail stores serving adults in the northeast, and we know that this is only the beginning of what will become a robust market throughout the region.
Unfortunately, the rollout of the program has been frustrating for many Bay Staters, especially those who are trying to get businesses up and running. In particular, the requirement that applicants sign host community agreements (HCAs) with municipalities has created significant problems, especially for smaller businesses. HCAs detail benefits cannabis businesses must provide to a locality, such as fees and “voluntary” donations. They are typically negotiated between individual business applicants and the locality, rather than localities having generally applicable terms.
Massachusetts law already caps the amount of financial benefits HCAs may require, but the Cannabis Control Commission has not reviewed HCAs to ensure compliance. There have been many reports of HCAs exceeding the limits of the law. Fortunately, the legislature’s Cannabis Policy Committee has advanced a bill, S 1126/H 3536, that would clarify the rules for HCAs and give the Cannabis Control Commission express authority to regulate them.
Please contact your state legislators and urge them to support this urgently needed reform!
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Patients who have been desperately waiting for a dispensary to open in Massachusetts will finally have some good news to celebrate this week. A dispensary in Salem has received a waiver from the state to begin operating, and opened its doors to qualifying patients on Wednesday. (An appointment is required.)
According to the Department of Health’s website, three other dispensaries have received approval to begin cultivating marijuana. These three dispensaries plan to locate their retail operations in Northampton, Brockton, and Ayer.
Only 15 dispensary applicants were selected by the department in 2014, but the state announced in June that it was overhauling the dispensary selection process and scrapping its widely criticized scoring system for judging dispensary applicants. The department says that from now on, applications will be considered on a rolling basis, and applicants that meet the state’s standards will be approved. Question 3, which was approved by 63% of voters in November 2012, envisioned up to 35 dispensaries for the Bay State.
The delays have been very frustrating for patients, but hopefully this is a sign that Massachusetts is finally getting its act together and implementing the medical marijuana law in an appropriate manner.