WORCESTER, MA—The Cannabis Control Commission (Commission) is pleased to announce the application for the third cohort of Massachusetts’ first-in-the-nation statewide Social Equity Program will open Monday, June 21.
“We are really proud of the Social Equity Program, which has already provided more than 400 participants with access to high-quality training and support services that aim to expand opportunity in the industry and address the disproportionate harm done by the War on Drugs,” said Commission Executive Director Shawn Collins. “Equity has been and will continue to be at the core of the Commission’s work, which is why we continue to evaluate, enhance, and adapt our programming to ensure we are anticipating the needs of participants. I look forward to meeting our new cohort later this year.”
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 are approved after meeting one or more program criteria 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 Commission expanded program access directly to Certified Economic Empowerment Priority Applicants through its 2020 regulatory review process and revised adult-use cannabis regulations that include the following the criteria:
“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.”
Training and technical assistance coursework tailored to applicants’ individual tracks will begin later this year. Tracks incorporate both universal material that all applicants can use to navigate the legal industry, as well as instruction specific to the Marijuana Establishment license type. Tracks also allow participants to seek courses based on their preference to own, manage, work within, or alongside cannabis businesses. The Commission has executed a new Request for Responses for vendors to provide training for Cohort Three and bids are currently under staff review.
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; and exclusive access to Social Consumption (when available), Marijuana Courier, and Delivery Operator licenses, as well as Microbusiness Delivery Endorsements, for at least a three-year period. Participants also benefit from a pre-certification process that enables the Commission to confirm an entity’s propensity to open one of the aforementioned business categories and assist with obtaining lease agreements, other local level approvals, and investment opportunities before they apply for a license.
The Commission has approved ninety-nine Social Equity Program Participant licenses, including 49 delivery pre-certification applications, 43 provisional licenses, and seven final licenses, of which five have opened for business. Additional license applications continue to progress through the Commission’s review process with expedited status. Applying for a license is neither a program requirement nor a next step for participants in certain tracks.
The Commission will continue to utilize the online curriculum developed and implemented through TalentLMS during the COVID-19 public health emergency to ensure the agency meets its commitment to disproportionately impacted communities. The online format ensures training continuity and provides schedule flexibility that some participants require.
The application window will remain open until Friday, September 17. For more information about the program or the application, visit the Commission’s Social Equity Program FAQ or Equity Page at 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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