Pot Business Applicants Voice Frustrations With State's Approval Process

cannabis control commission hearing worcester

The packed CCC hearing in Worcester Thursday afternoon. (Kim Tunnicliffe/WBZ NewsRadio)

WORCESTER, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — The last two Cannabis Control Commission meetings were disrupted by applicants upset with the license approval process for people in low-income areas wanting to open marijuana dispensaries.

At a packed CCC listening session Thursday afternoon in Worcester, they got to make their voices heard.

Under Massachusetts law, the CCC is "required to ensure that people from communities that have been disproportionately harmed by marijuana law enforcement are included in the new legal marijuana industry." The commission acknowledges that certain minority communities have experienced higher arrest and incarceration rates for marijuana crimes, and is required to prioritize applications from members of those communities.

But those Economic Empowerment Priority Review and Social Equity Program applicants say the commission has let their applications sit idly for months, causing many of them to run out of money. One by one, they voiced concerns and frustrations about the system.

Jonathan Spencer of Boston said the CCC's regulations are making it tough for the little guy in urban, low-income areas to compete with the larger corporations that are getting licenses—and that the result isn't as diverse as it should be.

"It looks like it's a bunch of white men who are building this industry right in front of us, and we have to stop that," he said.

Spencer suggested the commission should lower the qualifications required to apply, making it easier for smaller businesses to enter the field

Averyl Andrade told the committee she believes medicinal marijuana licenses are being granted to companies that shouldn't be getting them.

"The first issue I believe is plaguing the queue is the ability for an organization that has not served a single patient to use their medicinal priority to open a recreational facility anywhere in the state," she said.

The CCC said they're adding more licensing staff in order to expedite the review process.

WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports

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