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October 26, 2023

Report: Mass. cannabis business ownership is less diverse than national average

Photo | Grant Welker Union Station in Worcester.

A report conducted by cannabis industry trade publication Marijuana Business Daily has shown that Massachusetts marijuana business ownership has less racial and gender diversity than the national industry average, and – unlike the other states studied – the situation in Massachusetts is getting worse.

The study, which was released on Wednesday, shows racial minorities make up 14.4% of the cannabis business ownership in the commonwealth in 2023, compared to the national figure of 18.7%.

The study showed Massachusetts is falling behind other states in terms of gender equality; women make up 10.3% of cannabis business ownership in the commonwealth, compared to the national figure of 16.4%.

Both of these figures have declined when compared to Massachusetts data collected in 2022, where racial minorities made up 14.5% of ownership and women made up 11.5%. Of the four other states included in the study, only Massachusetts saw a decline in these figures.

This decline comes despite the fact the state has taken efforts to make the industry more equitable. The Cannabis Control Commission’s Social Equity Program provides free technical assistance and training to qualified applicants in order to create pathways into the industry for individuals who have been most impacted by the War on Drugs.

Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to launch such an equity program.

“Since Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to require equity in our legal cannabis industry, the Cannabis Control Commission has set standards for our peers to follow and successfully advocated for landmark changes that will only enhance our continued progress,” Commissioner Bruce Stebbins said in a statement provided to WBJ. “Revised regulations we have filed will make more employment opportunities available to communities harmed by the War on Drugs and ensure municipalities embrace our shared responsibility to build an inclusive industry in the Commonwealth. Combined with the forthcoming Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund and other ongoing efforts, such as our monthly review of licensee diversity and positive impact plans, I am confident Massachusetts will continue to set itself apart as a leader in this space.”

Marijuana Business Daily conducted the report by gathering data through an anonymous, industrywide, online survey of cannabis business owners and professionals. Data was also collected from different state cannabis regulatory bodies.

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