Who is a member?
Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
On behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Municipal Association is writing regarding H. 4791, An Act relative to equity in the cannabis industry.
First, we want to applaud the provisions of the bill that advance social equity as a key priority. We strongly support the sections to create the Social Equity Trust Fund, and the creation of grants and loans for economic empowerment and social equity participants. This approach will make the Commonwealth a leader in creating pathways for equity in this industry.
As you know, throughout the emergence of the cannabis industry here in Massachusetts, cities and towns have been on the leading edge of the process, deciding whether to host commercial enterprises, and then negotiating in good faith to execute host community agreements. More than 1,000 such contracts have been put in place, establishing a platform for growth of the industry. Before moving forward on H. 4791, we urge you to contact the local officials in your district to discuss how this draft would impact any host community agreements that are in place. We have significant reservations regarding the aspects of H. 4791 that, as written, appear to impose new requirements on existing host community agreements. Under this reading of the language, the measure would impact host community agreements that have already been executed in good faith, not just those that are yet to be negotiated, which could be very disruptive at the local level.
Cities and towns continue to oppose granting the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) additional regulatory powers to interfere with host community agreements. Placing host community agreements in the hands of a regulatory agency would hinder the development of the industry, thwarting the goal of propelling it forward. Overregulation would create an uncertain landscape for cities and towns that are working to successfully navigate the emergence of the cannabis industry. Limiting the CCC’s role relative to host community agreements would ensure that communities can continue to negotiate in good faith with businesses without worrying about stalled or delayed approval times, or counterproductive interference.
We also oppose new limitations on community impact fees and their subsequent elimination after five years. While the state is still in the beginning stages of developing the cannabis industry, it is problematic to eliminate these impact fees while we are still uncovering the true costs of this rapidly growing industry. There is a significant level of disagreement around how to quantify and recognize these fees, exacerbated by the multi-billion-dollar cannabis industry’s highly effective campaign to downplay the direct and indirect impact of the industry on municipalities. The best method of reaching agreement is to allow the parties to do so directly, without state or industry interference.
In this context, the MMA respectfully asks you to support the following amendments, which would it make it clear that the bill applies to future host community agreements, not existing ones:
Amendment #19 – Rep. Blais’s amendment protecting existing host community agreements from further commission review; and
Amendment #21 – Rep. Kushmerek’s amendment to eliminate commission review at each license renewal, keeping the CCC’s review at the time of initial licensure.
The MMA respectfully asks you to oppose the following amendment:
Amendment #23 – This amendment would allow a licensee to bring a breach of contract suit against a host community for impact fee disputes, burdening municipalities with costly litigation and creating pathways for licensees to undermine existing contracts.
We appreciate your consideration and attention to this important issue for the Commonwealth and our cities and towns. If you have any questions regarding our comments or require additional information, please do not hesitate to have your office contact me or MMA Legislative Analyst Ali DiMatteo at 617-426-7272, ext. 124, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you very much for your support for cities and towns.
Geoffrey C. Beckwith
MMA Executive Director & CEO