By Andrew Mutty
Cannabis advocacy often presents us with tough decisions.
A member of the state’s cannabis control commission has asked advocates to support them in a recent outreach to the community, this is my response..
Studying the regulations, listening to the meetings, seeing the applications getting approved (and not approved), watching businesses change ownership, and seeing where this industry is headed, my heart sinks and my stomach turns.
We have spoken directly to the CCC about our concerns for priority licensing and for ways to help fix the issues which have resulted in the current broken system. In August, we had politely suggested that CCC new hires should be delegated to focus on “priority applicants”. Our suggestion, provided to the CCC in writing and in person, laid out specific details as to how such a plan could come to fruition; “if you hire X amount of new people, train and focus them directly on ‘non-Registered Medical Dispensary (RMD) licensing”.
The direct, business like response we received from the CCC was “let us run the business.” It was quite clear from that response that the CCC views their entire operation as a “business”, which, in turn, means that the Commission is going to need far more public input to ensure that mentality begins to shift (and thus equity is once again put front and center with regards to the current licensing process).
The CCC is conducting a community outreach meeting for applicants on January 23rd, from 1-5PM, in Worcester that is being described as a public forum to discuss the ”challenges that cannabis business applicants encounter”.
That phrasing leads me to ask myself why? The reality is that the overwhelming challenge facing most applicants (such as myself) is simply getting through the process.
Now, instead of expediting priority review for non-RMD applicants, there is another forum to discuss how “challenging” that process is currently? I believe the “challenge” for the CCC should be to prioritize the scope of licensing and use this not as a forum for discussion but rather an inclusive and immersive day spent working with all economic empowerment, social equity and micro-business applicants to push through a pathway for provisional licensure.
Simply put, action must be taken to assure that EE, SE and micro-business applicants are getting greater support.
In that sense, transparency is of the utmost importance in this circumstance. A non-transparent system creates a blinded and hostile community.
As such, here’s another suggestion; I truly believe that each month there should be three presentation slides provided by the CCC at their meeting dedicated to talking about the challenges facing EE, SE and micro-business applicants;
1- The specific number of EE, SE and micro-business applicants approved for provisional licenses,
2- Which EE, SE and micro-business applicants are next in the queue,
3- The next EE, SE and micro-business application support mechanism that is scheduled or in the works.
Ensuring these slides are part of a mandated monthly presentation is an important mechanism to bring about transparency in the current licensing process..
Transparency can only come about as a result of open discussion regarding where these applicants are in the process and how the CCC can do more to assist them with going through that process.
In my opinion, there should be a dedicated staff for all non-RMD priority and expedited applicants (be they SE, EE, micro-businesses, or any other category of expedited review other than corporate RMDS).
Of note, there is nothing in the law governing the CCC’s regulatory structure that would prevent expedited review of applications by way of specific, designated employees.
What is confusing to most, is the law states the CCC must review all RMD’s (be they operational or otherwise) first, so long as they had a priority application in before the summer of 2018, yet it was never stated that it was against the law to approve EE applicants at the same time as those corporate RMD’s were being approved.
Now, we are in a situation where some RMD’s are getting priority for recreational licenses without ever being in operation and with some even having changed ownership since they were first given their priority status.
There is no reason for billion dollar corporations to be stealing priority slots away from local EE, SE and micro-business applicants simply because those corporations had an application in to operate medical dispensaries.
The truth is that not reviewing, processing, approving and helping EE/SE/Small Business, is immoral and unethical.
The interests of big business, as things stand, seem to be being put ahead of an equitable cannabis market. This marketplace can still be run legally and with respect for the laws of the Commonwealth, but if that is going to happen we must avoid further delays (which only exclude the community this industry is built upon).
Here is my last point and I can really say no more; as an applicant I have spent many hours discussing how I am going to give back to the community with my “positive impact” plan, and my “diversity plan”, and to me there is a contradiction here worth pointing out.
Applicants are expected to build these plans and live by them, yet the CCC is failing to use that same guidance for self reflection . Looking from the outside in, and focused on the specifics, I can’t say there has been enough done to help engender diversity within this emerging market place. The current internal “Positive Impact” plan the CCC is attempting to follow does not reflect the guidance it recommends and requires. Why can’t the regulatory system uphold its own equity standards internally?
For those of you reading this who don’t know me our my group of team members, I will provide you with some background so you can understand our position. Beantown Greentown was born with a love for cultivation. We shared our knowledge over the past 3 years on a public facing forums, education seminars, globally treasured 100ft joint displays, and most personally rewarding cleaning up the Boston Common from the Freedom Rally.
We branded our mission “MORE WEED LESS GREED”, and support the efforts of all to be equal in the industry.
It’s a fact that facing down that “greed” would ultimately be the battle we, as activists and consumers of this beautiful plant, all face. In our pursuit of legal participation in this market, we have been through the gauntlet just like everyone else seeking a license.
We know the struggles and the delays that are facing any local group going up against 112 pages of regulations. We know that RMD’s, with endless pockets of support and lobbying groups have undermined the process to their benefit.
We have scrapped together every last dime we can find to keep our building under contract, negotiated lesser rent, and collected every cent we could to survive. We still are looking for complete status on our application submitted on February 6th of 2019. Our goal is to represent the local community with a micro license while providing the best products we can. Our goal is to retain as much profit for our local communities, rather than seeing it shipped out of state or out of the country. We aim to hire local, minority and disabled employees, and positively impact our local region to the best of our ability. Period.
We’re honored to have you with us on this journey, and we can’t thank you enough for taking the time to read through this (long) post tonight. Without your support, we would have given up long ago, but knowing that those good people in the community, who are truly in this for the right reasons, support us keeps up going regardless as to the challenges we face.
Recent The Young Jurks episodes featuring other frustrated applicants:
Andrew Mutty is a Haverhill, Massachusetts resident, father of two girls, a husband, an owner of two dogs. Mutty is also a Micro-Business applicant in the city of Lowell, DBA FourTwenty Industries Co., which will operate and produce Beantown Greentown flower, Roslindale Concentrates and H.E.R. Cannabis PreRolls, as part of the Commonwealth’s Social Equity program. Mutty is a contributor to midnightmass.substack.com and The Young Jurks. You can listen to The 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.
Photo: Josh Campbell
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