Cannabis Control Commission Launches State’s Second Cohort of Social Equity Program Participants with Two Weeks of Programming
More than 280 approved applicants from disproportionately harmed communities will gain access to expedited licensing review, fee waivers, training and technical assistance, and more
WORCESTER, MA—The Cannabis Control Commission (Commission) hosted a virtual orientation seminar for participants in the second cohort of Massachusetts’ first-in-the-nation statewide Social Equity Program on Friday, July 17. Programming continues tomorrow, July 24, with an exclusive valuation seminar, with Chairman Steven J. Hoffman, for participants interested in learning about evaluating their business’ value and structuring deals with investors.
The Commission first launched the Social Equity Program in 2018 in accordance with a state mandate that requires full participation in the regulated cannabis marketplace by communities that have been disproportionately harmed by prohibition. Participants who were approved after meeting one or more program criteria were eligible to attend Friday’s session and will have the option of completing ongoing training along four, self-selected tracks:
- Entrepreneur: Those seeking licensure and ownership;
- Core: those interested in cannabis careers at the managerial and executive level;
- Entry: those seeking entry level positions in marijuana establishments or are entering the workforce with 0-2 years of experience; and
- Ancillary: those with existing skills directly transferable to supporting cannabis businesses.
“The fact that participation in the Social Equity Program has doubled from the first cohort to the second speaks both to the high-quality training we’ve sought to deliver and to the need and desire for wraparound services that level the industry playing field for those harmed the most by the War on Drugs,” Commission Executive Director Shawn Collins said. “Equity will continue to be an agency-wide focus of the entire Commission, and we will continue to evaluate, enhance and adapt our programming to make sure we both meet participants where they are now, and help them get to where they want to go in the Commonwealth’s regulated marketplace.”
Commissioner Shaleen Title, who was appointed as one of five Cannabis Control Commissioners in 2017 based on her expertise in legal, policy, or social justice issues related to the regulated industry, kicked off the morning by welcoming more than 280 accepted applicants into the second cohort. Commission licensing, enforcement, research, and legal staff then provided overviews of the agency’s application and licensing processes, exclusive benefits and license types available to program participants, ongoing research projects that explore the Commonwealth’s progress to achieve equity in legal cannabis, and additional services available to participants through the agency’s aggregation of contacts for pro bono lawyers and other volunteer experts and professional services. The orientation seminar concluded with a video meet-and-greet for participants to introduce themselves, share their business interests, and to get to know one another.
Future training and technical assistance coursework will be tailored to applicants’ individual tracks and commence later this year, led by vendors and trainers who have been certified and contracted by the Commission. Tracks will incorporate both universal material that all applicants can use to navigate the legal industry, as well as subtracks based upon which Marijuana Establishment licenses applicants wish to pursue, or whether they prefer to own, manage, work within, or alongside cannabis businesses.
In response to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency in the Commonwealth, the Commission developed online curriculum and implemented a new Learning Management System through TalentLMS to ensure the agency meets its commitment to disproportionately impacted communities. The online format ensures training continuity during unprecedented times and provides schedule flexibility that some participants require.
In April 2020, 146 individuals completed participation in the first cohort. To date, more than 40 Social Equity Program participants have submitted Marijuana Establishment license applications for the Commission’s review and continue to progress, with expedited status, through the licensing process. Applying for a license is neither a program requirement nor a next step for participants in certain tracks.
In addition to training and technical assistance, upon program approval, all Social Equity Program participants gain immediate access to expedited review by licensing staff when they submit a license application, certain fee reductions and waivers, exclusive access to social consumption and delivery license types for a minimum of two years, as well as the benefit of pre-certification process that enables the Commission to confirm an entity’s propensity to open a Marijuana Establishment and assist with obtaining lease agreements, other local level approvals, and investment opportunities before they apply for a license.
For more information about the Social Equity Program visit MassCannabisControl.Com/EquityPrograms, contact the Commission by phone (774-415-0200) or email (Commission@CCCMass.Com), or follow the agency on Facebook and Twitter.
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