Pubdate: Mon, 12 Dec 2016
Source: Boston Herald (MA)
Copyright: 2016 The Boston Herald, Inc
Note: Prints only very short LTEs.
Page: 14


Massachusetts voters legalized the sale and recreational use of
marijuana when they passed Question 4 in November. Folks who work in
the cannabis industry, who authored that legislation, want to squeeze
as much as they can out of the Bay State market even if it means
exploiting minority communities.

Oh, they wouldn't describe it that way. The authors of the legislation
instead called for regulators to encourage "full participation" in the
new industry "by people from communities that have previously been
disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and enforcement and
to positively impact those communities."

In practice, though, that could lead to a concentration of pot shops
in minority neighborhoods, which has been a concern in other states
that have legalized pot.

Meanwhile some of the ideas floated to ensure "full participation"
seem quite simply nuts.

At a meeting with members of the Boston City Council last week
industry representatives went beyond urging set-asides for pot shop
licenses, which some members of the City Council have already said
they support, for neighborhoods that have seen the most pot-related

They want to offer financial incentives to ensure that the new
businesses in those neighborhoods aren't overwhelmingly owned by
whites and franchises. Depending on how those "incentives" are
structured that could effectively put the city of Boston in the
business of subsidizing pot shops. Isn't that terrific.

Another suggestion discussed at the council meeting is to develop a
direct pipeline for inmates who are released from incarceration on
drug charges to enter training programs to work in the pot
dispensaries. When it comes to "full participation" apparently job
fairs aren't enough.

We understand that councilors want to ensure equity in the new
marketplace. But what happens when the effort to encourage pot shops
in neighborhoods most affected by drug arrests leads to a boom along,
say, the Methadone Mile? The city must avoid taking steps that lead to
unintended consequences.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt