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April 12, 2024

Cannabis regulators seek input on new municipal equity rules

A large white building with two spires. Photo | Grant Welker Worcester's Union Station, home of the state's Cannabis Control Commission

Cannabis regulators are seeking input on the model bylaw or ordinance that will give cities and towns a way to comply with new minimum municipal equity standards that stem from the 2022 marijuana industry reform law.

Municipalities that host marijuana businesses will have to take at least one of three possible actions to meet the new standards: adopting the CCC's model bylaw or ordinance to permit social equity businesses in the town, adopting its own ordinance or bylaw to exclusively permit social equity businesses for three years, or creating a local approval process under which a non-equity applicant could be approved only after a social equity business has commenced operations.

On Thursday, the CCC released its draft model bylaw and opened a comment period that will remain open through April 25.

"This model ordinance or bylaw, depending on whether it's a city or town, is something that the city or town could ... pull it off their website and they can use it as a template when they're going and deliberating," Kyle Potvin, the CCC's licensing director, said Thursday. "Whether it's a city council or town committee, whatever it may be, they have a tool to hit the ground running, they don't have to completely start from scratch. ... We want this to be a versatile tool, something that can be used by anybody who wants to start complying with our regulations."

Potvin said the CCC has run the model ordinance by the attorney general's Municipal Law Division, which has to sign off on ordinances passed at the local level, to get its feedback before a final document will be put up for a CCC vote in May.

A 2022 cannabis industry reform law, known as Chapter 180, sought to increase diversity in the cannabis industry, move closer to social pot consumption sites, and ramp up long-sought oversight on the host community agreements between marijuana businesses and municipalities --  a chronic trouble spot for the legal industry. Earlier this year, the CCC released and took public comment on a model HCA for municipalities hosting cannabis businesses.

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