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 S. 2801, legislation further advancing the legalization of adult use cannabis in our state.
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.
However, we have serious reservations regarding the aspects of S. 2801 that would interfere with existing contracts and expand the Cannabis Control Commission’s authority in that regard. While we appreciate that S. 2801 would remove the most problematic retroactivity issues contained in the previous iterations of the bill, we are concerned that the language still needs to be clarified to ensure this legislation would only impact host community agreements executed after the date of the bill’s enactment. Understandably, we oppose amendments or proposals that would do the reverse (including amendment #5, which the MMA asks you to reject), which would implement a retrospective or retroactive interference with contracts that have been executed in good faith. Constitutional tenets protect existing contracts from statutory encroachment, and such provisions would invite extensive litigation and rejection in the long term.
Before voting on this measure, we respectfully urge you to contact the chief municipal officials in your district to discuss how S. 2801 would impact those municipalities that have executed host community agreements.
Cities and towns continue to oppose granting the Cannabis Control Commission 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. We ask that you remove and moderate the Cannabis Control Commission’s role in the host community agreement process. This would ensure that communities can continue to negotiate in good faith with businesses without worrying about stalled or delayed approval times, or counterproductive or industry-dominated interference.
Micromanagement of community impact fees is a very real concern, and we respectfully ask that you recognize the burden this would place on cities and towns. 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 minimize the direct and indirect impact of the industry on municipalities. Their goal, of course, is to maximize profits and minimize accountability to local needs. 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 strongly supports Sen. Tarr’s amendment (#31), which would remove community impact fees from host community agreements, and instead allow municipalities to impose an additional fee of up to 3% of sales to offset local impacts and needs. This would standardize the fee structure and eliminate countless disagreements. Standardizing impact fees in this way would simplify the process, allow for a more predictable funding stream, benefit communities, and expand the industry.
The MMA supports the following specific amendments and asks you to consider these proposals in your final bill:
Amendment #7 – Sen. Moore’s amendment to create a 120-day time frame for Cannabis Control Commission review;
Amendment #8 – Sen. Moore’s amendment to require renewal, renegotiation or waiver of Host Community Agreements upon expiration;
Amendment #15 – Sen. Velis’s amendment to clarify that the Cannabis Control Commission need not approve host community agreements;
Amendment #21 – Sen. Tarr’s amendment to establish a fund to aid municipalities in negotiating host agreements (.05% of sales tax revenue);
Amendment #32 – Sen. Velis’s amendment to require the Cannabis Control Commission to provide resources to municipalities to meet reporting and recording requirements.
Thank you very much for 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.
Geoffrey C. Beckwith
MMA Executive Director & CEO