Report: Massachusetts Cannabis Social Equity Fund At $0 Year After Launch

The fund was approved by lawmakers last year.

A fund created by Massachusetts state lawmakers last year to subsidize equity-owned cannabis businesses there remains empty, according to a report

Boston Business Journal reports that a “bill passed by the Massachusetts legislature last August created a new fund that promised millions of dollars to equity-owned cannabis businesses,” but that “nearly a year later, not a single dollar has been handed out because the fund remains empty.”

“Chapter 180, passed last summer, created a Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund, intended to take 15% of the revenue collected from the sale of cannabis and give it to social equity and economic empowerment businesses, two licenses that are given to entrepreneurs who come from marginalized groups or who were harmed by the war on drugs,” according to the report. 

According to Green Market Report, the “issue appears to be a technical one; the law that created the fund was written so that none of the revenues would be transferred from the Marijuana Regulation Fund – where the 15% collections are currently sitting – to the Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund until it’s first all put into ‘something called the Consolidated Net Surplus account.’”

Adult-use cannabis sales began in Massachusetts in 2018 –– and business has been booming

Earlier this month, the state’s Cannabis Control Commission reported that the state collected $132.8 million in recreational cannabis sales in the month of June, the highest tally of the year thus far. Since sales began in 2018, the state has collected $4.74 billion worth of adult-use cannabis sales.

Sales of adult-use marijuana in the state are taxed at “6.25% for a state sales tax, 10.75% for the state excise tax and three percent for a local option tax for cities and towns in Massachusetts. 

As in other states that have ended the prohibition on pot, Massachusetts has tried to include social equity provisions within the new cannabis laws. 

The bill that created the cannabis social equity trust fund was passed last August and subsequently signed into law by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker

Baker said at the time that “many of the provisions that this bill adopts … improve regulation of the cannabis industry.”

“This law will rebalance the playing field, where so far wealthy corporations have been able [to] buy their way through the licensing process and too many local, small business owners and Black and brown entrepreneurs have been locked out,” state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz said at the time. “The reforms and funding we fought so hard for will be game changers, putting Massachusetts back among the leading states for racial justice in our economic policy on cannabis. I’m so grateful to the many community members and grassroots leaders who came together and held the state’s feet to the fire to make this happen.”

The measure also included a provision that would have assessed a proposal to allow students to use marijuana therapies at school, but Baker vetoed that, saying the provision was “highly prescriptive — making it clear that the agencies charged with producing the study must identify ways to make medical marijuana widely available within schools, rather than considering whether such an allowance is advisable.”

”The voter initiatives that legalized medical marijuana in 2012 and 2016 included strong measures to keep marijuana away from K-12 schools and school children. Both laws explicitly stated that marijuana would in no circumstance be permitted on school grounds,” Baker said. “Because the study proposed in section 26 clearly works against these important and well-established protections and disregards the clear intentions of the voters in legalizing marijuana use, I cannot approve this part of the bill.”

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