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Boston City Council Passes Marijuana Ordinance

During the regular city council meeting, the council passed city councilor Kim Janey’s ordinance involving a new marijuana oversight board that will publicly evaluate and vote on license applications from cannabis companies based on a set list of criteria. The goal is to create equity in this new industry.

The new ordinance will create a board that will give priority to applicants, which includes companies with 51% or more ownership stake, from three or more of the following criteria:

  • Someone who has lived in an area of disproportionate impact for at least 7 of the past 10 years.
  • A Boston resident who has a past arrest or conviction for possession, sale, manufacturing or cultivation of marijuana between 1971-2016 who has been a resident of Boston for the past 5 years.
  • Someone who has been a resident of Boston for at least the past five years.
  • Someone who is of Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, or Asian descent.
  • Someone whose annual household income is at or below 100% of the area median income.
  • Someone who is certified by the Cannabis Control Commission as an Economic Empowerment Applicant.

The ordinance would also create a program to offer technical assistance and trainings for entrepreneurs who have previously been arrested for marjiuana-related crimes.

To maintain the equity set out by the ordinance, the city would be required to approve on a 1:1 ratio, meaning they would approve equal or more equity-program applicants than other applicants.

The ordinance passed 12 to 1 and Mayor Marty Walsh has gone on record saying he supports it.

“I am proud that the mayor and the council are taking this very important step forward together to ensure equity in our process,” Janey said. “We cannot afford to be stewards of the status quo.”

Janey first submitted this ordinance request almost a year ago and has been working within committees and with the Mayor to perfect it.

“It has been a long journey over the last nine months,” said Janey.

The only councilor to vote against it was Althea Garrison. 

“It will be a slush fund for people who are running for public office,” she said about the fund that will be created.

In the past year, the marijuana industry has made $364 million in sales so far in the Commonwealth.

“It is clear that this is a multi-million-dollar industry. It’s imperative that we move forward in a meaningful way that creates opportunity,” said Janey.

Janey stated that for decades people of color have been unfairly criminalized, which is why this focusing on equity is so important, so everyone can have a seat at the table and take part in this new opportunity.

“We are not the first state to legalize marijuana, but we are the first state to mandate equity,” she said. 

City Councilor Michelle Wu said she was proud to vote in favor of the ordinance calling it “thorough and comprehensive.” 

“This is a huge deal,” she said. “This is what every piece of legislation should accomplish.”

The next step is for Mayor Walsh to sign this into law.

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