By Erving Jean-Jacques
Thursday’s Cannabis Control Commission meeting exploded into the New Year with a bang!
In the room, a feeling of dread, before the Cannabis Control Commission gaveled in its proceedings. All five of the commissioners did not seem as upbeat or cheerful, which was a noticeable shift in tone that may be a harbinger of the new normal. At the Commissioner's final meeting of 2019, on Dec. 19th, Chairman Steve Hoffman chose to adjourn the session after Leah Daniels, who is trying to open her cannabis business Alchemy League, which is an economic empowerment cannabis business, protested by reading a moving letter despite being ruled out of order by Hoffman. The best part of the interaction was after the show was over. Eager for damage control Hoffman released a video on the C.C.C. website that suffered from selective memory. We will bring you more on that later.
Unfortunately Daniels’ dream, like many others with the status of “economic empowerment applicant” has languished in purgatory, despite a wait of over 600 days without any communication from the state agency. Despite the stated goals of the CCC’s economic empowerment and social equity programs, which were explicitly designed to engender the standing of those Black and Brown communities most affected by the drug war during the permitting process for recreational cannabis, there is not a single EE or SE applicant currently operating in Massachusetts (despite dozens of such applications waiting in the CCC queue)..
In light of such delays, it is perhaps no surprise that applicants have taken drastic measures to bring their agony to the attention of the Commission. The disruption of Thursday’s meeting (the second in as many months), reflects the desperation that some applicants feel due to the devastating financial impact of being forced to wait for years in the license queue. Applicants must maintain, and pay rent, on facilities which sit empty simply to be able to be given the privilege of waiting in that application queue (rent which can run as much as $6,000 per month for some applicants). The real travesty is that E.E. applicants are a minority of a minority. How many black and brown people have had their lives ruined by racist laws and the people they serve? Yet Massachusetts can not seemingly accommodate the very people they aimed to aid! The gas light stays lit. Perhaps we should swap out The Statue of Liberty for a Texaco sign. It sure would be more in-line with this country’s modus operandi.
Alas, even before today’s meeting was adjourned the C.C.C. took preemptive action and quickly voted to pass through the last incomplete agenda from the last session.
Thirty one provisional licenses were shepherded to the promise land with no public debate or accountability.
The Chairman had this to say shortly after Thursday’s meeting was adjourned;
“I feel badly for the 31 people that were affected by this. That being said, I also understand the frustrations that people feel about the process. We have been responsive to those frustrations in terms of changes to our regulations, prioritization, categories of licenses are available exclusively to economic empowerment and social equity applicants ... we’ve been trying to do things and we’ve made changes, we’ve listened.”
The most vocal supporter Gerald Nwosu, an attorney, entrepreneur, musician, well spoken guy had this to say “my sister is a veteran and she’s been trying to get her cannabis licence. I call her my sister because as a black man every black woman is my sister. She’s been waiting six hundred days for a response while shes burning through capital. The last thing I want is for them to put a veteran woman in jail. So I’m here. I’ll be the bad guy!”
When I inquired what he hoped to gain from this his reply was refreshingly simple….
“Give an answer, be accountable tax dollars pay their salary there needs to be a clear cut process. The process for a white man and a black veteran woman need to be equal.”
I predict, so long as there CONTINUES to be no operational EE or SE businesses in the Commonwealth, one imagines this pattern of protests will continue.
As to my own views on this situation;.
What I found interesting was based on the reaction from most cannabis “entrepreneurs”. Both at the scene and online there was a lot of arm chair Brady’s signaling that they could of done something more efficiently or that they didn’t care for the protesters tone/language.
It’s quite amusing that a nation that was founded on violent protest always seems to have a problem when Black men or women decide to fight for equity or equality.
Whether it was Malcolm, Lebron, Gabriel Union, or Kaepernick white people love to express their disapproval for black and brown people standing up for themselves.
This would be entertaining if not for the serious consequences.
Imagine Trump without all the life and death implications.
I asked later online about what protesters could have done better. The only consensus seemed to be they were too “loud” or the “expletives” .
It seems loud swearing should be the least of our concerns compared to racist disengagement or cannabis crony capitalism.
American cognitive dissonance in terms of Cannabis Equity is a new type of disgusting.
This Commonwealth passed Cannabis laws a few short years ago. Those laws were supposed to try to alleviate the purposeful harm enacted by generations of racist politicians.
Instead, after more than four years, Massachusetts is failing those communities who were supposed to benefit from the legalization of cannabis . How many investigations do we need to comprehend before we realize we’ve been bamboozled, hoodwink led astray.
It’s a New year, but we also must change! The cannabis community if it is actuality a community…. must put aside their racially tinged out rage and actually go after the real monsters in the room. If they ever truly hope to stand for equity. God bless America.
Erving Jean-Jacques is a Boston native and cannabis advocate. Incarceration led to a transmutation of his consciousness, a pivot towards writing and other forms of media. He was first introduced to radical thinking through the inaugural National Expungement Week via Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council. Jean-Jacques is a contributor to midnightmass.substack.com and The Young Jurks. You can listen toThe Young Jurks on itunes or wherever else podcasts are streamed. This article was produced with support from Midnight Mass and The Young Jurks, where your contributions are greatly appreciated and help us deliver more local coverage.
Midnight Mass Publisher’s note: The views expressed by the author herein are worthy of publication and discussion as are other voices, whom we respect, with a different perspective. In the interest of sharing credible voices in the community, we have included links to them below. We look forward to continuing an active discussion of this topic on Sunday's “The Young Jurks” show, airing live on Sunday (1/12/19) at 5pm on our facebook page.
Shaleen Title - https://www.facebook.com/shaleentitle/posts/10112183329741350
The Young Jurks - Mass Cannabis Control Commission Chaos
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