The Boston City Council is pushing ahead with their goals to make the growing marijuana industry more equitable for all residents of Boston.
The council held a working session over councilor Kim Janey’s proposed ordinance regarding the industry Tuesday morning.
“We have to be intentional about our desire to equity,” said Janey at the working session.
The ordinance calls for the development of an equity program in which marijuana business equity applicants must meet three out of the following five guidelines:
- A person who has resided in an area of disproportionate impact for at least five of the past ten years.
- A person who has a past conviction for the possession, sale or trafficking of marijuana, who has been a resident of Boston for the past 12 months; OR a person who is married to or is a child of a person with a past conviction for the possession or sale of marijuana, who has been a resident of Boston for the past 12 months.
- A person who resided in the City of Boston for at least the past five years.
- A person of Black, African American, Hispanic or Latino descent.
- A person whose annual household income is below 400 percent of the federal poverty level.
The ordinance would create a Boston Cannabis Board responsible for ensuring the cannabis industry remains equitable and safe for all. It will be made up of five members, three will be nominated by the mayor and two will be nominated by the city council.
The proposed ordinance would also create a fund to help residents break into the industry.
“We have an opportunity to lead the nation on this,” said Janey.
Jerome Smith, Chief of Civic Engagement, said the Mayor was open to allowing half of the available licenses for marijuana dispensaries to be allocated for equitable candidates. There are currently 52 licenses available.
The Mayor also wants to make sure these candidates can open retail where there will be a lot of foot traffic like downtown, and not just in their communities.
Smith said the Mayor is also in favor of creating a fund.
Councilor Josh Zakim expressed the process to gaining a cannabis license needs to be clear and concise. He said he has heard a lot of complaints about the process so far.
Zakim believes it is important for the process to be fair for everyone. He thinks of when people were first allowed to open liquor stores in the city.
“That created generational wealth for some families,” he said.