Social Equity Definition / Criteria
- i. Previous Cannabis Conviction:
- ii. Income:
- iii. State Residency:
- iv. Qualifying Neighborhood / Municipal Residency:
In the Massachusetts adult use sector, The Social Equity Program is not a license type. Upon completion of this program, participants will have acquired tools and training to apply for and obtain a license through the Cannabis Control Commission (Commission), but program participation does not guarantee licensure. In addition to the state’s Social Equity Program, the Commission will provide priority licensing review to “Certified Economic Empowerment Priority Applicants.” Social Equity Program participants and Certified Economic Empowerment Priority Applicants have exclusive access to three license types for a period of time.
Social Equity Program
Applicants are eligible for the Social Equity Program if they demonstrate they meet at least one of the following criteria:
- They have resided in an area of disproportionate impact for at least 5 of the past 10 years and have an Income that does not exceed 400% of Area Median Income and
- They have a past drug conviction and they have been residents of Massachusetts for at least the preceding 12 months;
- They have been married to or are the child of a person with a drug conviction and they have been residents of Massachusetts for at least the preceding 12 months
- Any individual listed as an owner on the original certification of an Economic Empowerment Priority Applicant who satisfies one or more the following criteria:
- Lived for five of the preceding ten years in an Area of Disproportionate Impact, as determined by the Commission;
- Experience in one or more previous positions where the primary population served were disproportionately impacted, or where primary responsibilities included economic education, resource provision or empowerment to disproportionately impacted individuals or communities;
- Black, African American, Hispanic or Latino descent; or
- Other significant articulable demonstration of past experience in or business practices that promote economic empowerment in Areas of Disproportionate Impact.
Certified Economic Empowerment Priority Applicants
In accordance with state law, the Commission will provide priority licensing review to Certified Economic Empowerment Priority Applicants who demonstrate at least three of the following six criteria:
- Majority of ownership belongs to people who have lived in Areas of Disproportionate Impact for five of the last 10 years.
- Majority of ownership has held one or more previous positions where the primary population served were disproportionately impacted, or where primary responsibilities included economic education, resource provision or empowerment to disproportionately impacted individuals or communities.
- At least 51% of current employees/subcontractors reside in Areas of Disproportionate Impact and will increase to 75% by the first day of business.
- At least 51% of employees or subcontractors have drug-related convictions, but are otherwise legally employable in a cannabis-related enterprise.
- A majority of the ownership is made up of individuals from Black, African American, Hispanic, or Latino descent.
- Owners can demonstrate significant past experience in or business practices that promote economic empowerment in Areas of Disproportionate Impact.
Social Equity Provisions
Massachusetts social equity program offers participants the following benefits:
- Seed-to-Sale tracking system monthly fees waived.
- Free technical assistance and training uniquely available to social equity applicants and owners in the following areas: Management, recruitment and employee trainings; Accounting and sales forecasting; Tax prediction and compliance; Legal compliance; Business plan creation and operational development; Marijuana industry best practices;
- Expedited license application review for individuals who maintain 10% ownership in the business.
- 100% reduced rate for Annual Delivery Licensee Fee for the first year and 50% reduced rate for subsequent years .
- Assistance with identifying or raising funds or capital.
License Priorities and Set Asides
- License Priorities / Set Asides:
In Massachusetts, social consumption establishment licenses, marijuana delivery operator licenses, and marijuana courier (formerly known as delivery-only) licenses are limited on an exclusive basis to businesses controlled by majority ownership of “Economic Empowerment Priority Applicants” or “Social Equity Program” participants. However, this exclusivity period is only for 24 months for the marijuana courier licenses and 36 months for social consumption establishments licenses and marijuana delivery operator licenses.
Fee Waivers and Reductions
- Fee Waivers / Reductions:
Massachusetts waives adult use cannabis application fees for Social Equity Program participants. Massachusetts offers a 50% reduced rate on annual licensing fees for businesses with majority Social Equity Program or Economic Empowerment Priority Applicants and Massachusetts Minority Business Enterprises (MBE), Women Business Enterprises (WBE), and Veteran Business Enterprises (VBE). For annual Delivery Licensee fees there is a 100% reduction in the initial licensing fee for Social Equity and Economic Empowerment Priority Applicants. Upon renewal and each year after there is a 50% reduction.
Other Financial Support for Social Equity Applicants and Licensees
Massachusetts currently does not have funding specifically allocated to support their social equity program. However the state does have a Marijuana Regulation Fund which is subject to appropriation. Money in the Marijuana Regulation Fund can be expended for a multitude of activities including industry specific technical assistance, and mentoring services for economically-disadvantaged persons in communities disproportionately impacted by high rates of arrest and incarceration for marijuana offenses.