In a number of significant ways, the compromise bill directs attention and support to impacted communities.
Most importantly, it requires the Cannabis Control Commission to:
prioritize review and licensing decisions for applicants [that] demonstrate experience in or business practices that promote economic empowerment in communities disproportionately impacted by high rates of arrest and incarceration for offenses under chapter 94C.
The Cannabis Control Commission is more broadly to pursue efforts to improve minority participation in the licensing process.
(a) For the purposes of this section, the terms “minority business enterprise”, “women business enterprise”, and “veteran business enterprise” shall have the same meanings as defined in section 58 of chapter 7.
(b) The cannabis control commission shall conduct a study on participation in the regulated marijuana industry, including participation by minority business enterprises, women business enterprises and veteran business enterprises. The study shall include, but shall not be limited to: (i) a review of the participation in activities related to the regulation, licensing and promotion of marijuana establishments; (ii) a compilation of data on the individuals and entities that apply for and are issued licenses under chapter 94G of the General Laws, including the individual’s or members of an entity’s race, gender, country of origin and state geographic region; and (iii) any evidence of discrimination or barriers to entry in the regulated marijuana industry.
(c) If, upon completion of the study, the commission determines that there is evidence of discrimination or barriers to entry in the regulated marijuana industry, the commission shall adopt diversity licensing goals that provide meaningful participation of communities disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition and enforcement, including minority business enterprises, women business enterprises and veteran business enterprises. The commission shall, in consultation with the supplier diversity office under the executive office of administration and finance, develop training programs designed and implemented to achieve meaningful participation by minority persons, women, and veterans. These programs shall include, but shall not be limited to: (i) recruitment of minority, women, and veteran owned business enterprises to become licensed in marijuana related businesses; (ii) development of workforce training for minorities, women, and veterans to enter into marijuana related businesses; (iii) creation of employer training to attract minorities, women, and veterans into the workforce; and (iv) outreach to disadvantaged groups, including consultations with state agencies and providing education and training opportunities.
In implementation of licensing of marijuana retailers, the commission shall prepare annual reports that shall include, but shall not be limited to: (i) the total number of licensed marijuana retailers; (ii) the number and percentage of licenses provided to minority, women, and veteran owned business; (iii) the total number and percentage of minority, women, and veteran employees in the marijuana industry, and (iv) recommendations on reducing or eliminating any identified barriers to entry, including access to capital, in the marijuana industry. The reports shall be submitted to the treasurer and receiver general, the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on marijuana policy, the clerks of the house and senate, and the governor. The commission shall post each annual report on its website.
(d) The commission shall file its findings and recommendations with the clerks of the senate and the house of representatives, the chairs of the joint committee on marijuana policy and the senate and house committees on ways and means.
Finally, the Cannabis Control Commission is to:
develop a research agenda . . . on ownership and employment trends in the marijuana industry examining participation by racial, ethnic and socioeconomic subgroups, including identification of barriers to participation in the industry . . . [and] a compilation of data on the number of civil penalties, arrests, prosecutions, incarcerations and sanctions imposed as a result of violations of chapter 94C for possession, distribution or trafficking of marijuana or marijuana products, including identification of age, race, gender, country of origin, state geographic region and average sanctions of the persons charged.
The Cannabis Advisory Commission is to have a total of five different members with a particular focus on minority and impacted communities:
. . . members to be appointed by the governor who shall consist of: . . . 1 expert in minority business development, 1 expert in economic development strategies for under-resourced communities, . . . members to be appointed by the attorney general who shall consist of: 1 expert in social welfare or social justice, 1 expert in criminal justice reform to mitigate the disproportionate impact of drug prosecutions on communities of color, 1 expert in minority business ownership, . . .
The Cannabis Advisory Commission is also to form a subcommittee on:
market participation to develop recommendations on women, minority and veteran-owned businesses, local agriculture and growing cooperatives.