Metro, Politics, Boston

Walsh Files Executive Ordinance on Marijuana Equity

City of Boston employees and their immediate family members will be prohibited from participating in the  city’s cannabis industry. Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, BC ’09, filed the executive ordinance on Friday that bars employees from seeking approval for a marijuana business from the City or any of its committees.

“I am committed to ensuring this new industry is fair, transparent, and equitable for all who wish to participate in it,” Walsh said in a press release. 

“My Administration works closely with businesses and applicants to make sure they get the support they need, and neighborhoods have a voice in the process. This executive order will create a new standard for city employees and remove potential conflicts of interest that may arise as the City continues its work to develop and implement the growing cannabis industry.”

The order follows Fall River mayor Jasiel Correia’s indictment for extorting cannabis companies in exchange for granting them a license to operate. 

The order is in effect for any business that is seeking, or will seek, a license to open a pot shop. Applicants will also have to complete a Beneficial Interest Form that demonstrates the business and personal interests of the owner. 

Members of the Zoning Board of Appeal, the Boston Licensing Board, the Boston Public Health Commission, the Boston Zoning Commission, the Boston Planning and Development Agency, and their immediate family members are also prohibited from participating in the marijuana business. 

“This executive order builds on Mayor Walsh’s commitment to ensuring this new, developing industry is grounded in equity, with a focus on bringing new opportunities to the residents and business owners that have been most impacted by the war on drugs,” the press release said.

Bringing equity to the marijuana industry has been a topic of conversation, as a coalition—Real Action for Cannabis Equity (R.A.C.E.)—formed in Cambridge two weeks ago to address the unequal distribution of cannabis licenses. An ordinance to create a Boston Equity Program and a Boston Cannabis Board, which seeks to amend the disparities in ownership of legal recreational establishment, was proposed by the Boston City Council in February.

The Cannabis Control Commission for Massachusetts had guidelines for creating equity in the marijuana industry. Applications for Economic Empowerment (EE) applicants are available for people belonging to groups that have been disproportionately affected by the policing of marijuana. Accepted EE applicants have priority when applying for a license to operate a cannabis business.

Featured Image by Jonathan Ye / Heights Editor

September 15, 2019