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Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
With 85 host community agreements already in place, the MMA is asking the Cannabis Control Commission to refrain from placing restrictions on these contracts between municipalities and private recreational marijuana establishments.
In response to the CCC’s request for comment on draft guidance regarding host community agreements, the MMA sent a letter to the CCC on Aug. 3 saying that municipalities and marijuana businesses have been successful in negotiating the terms of host community agreements, and that “these negotiations have largely been a positive experience with both sides coming to the table to negotiate freely and in good faith.”
The MMA argues that contracting between local governments and private entities “is a long-established practice to which providing limiting guidance could have long-term effects on the ability of municipalities to contract freely, even outside the marijuana industry.”
The letter notes similar types of municipal contracts, such as housing development contracts, host community agreements with the gaming industry, and contracts with the movie industry.
“Municipalities should be afforded latitude to establish the marijuana industry in a way that is agreeable to the constituents in their respective communities,” the MMA wrote. “This includes the ability to properly vet private marijuana establishments and negotiate agreeable terms in the host community agreement.”
Prospective marijuana businesses are only required by law, as part of their application with the CCC, to file a single-page certification signed by the municipality and the applicant stating that they have successfully negotiated a host community agreement. The MMA cautions that the CCC “weighing in on the terms of these contracts is a slippery slope … and may amount to improper adjudication.”
The MMA is asking the CCC to “hold off on issuing guidance for host community agreements at this time and continue to work closely with the MMA and municipalities. … The MMA fears that this guidance would become more of a hindrance than a help to the fair negotiation of future host community agreements, and also to those that already exist.”
The MMA’s arguments were echoed by letters from the Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association and KP Law, which represents a number of cities and towns.