December 20, 2018

Massachusetts aims to train drug convicts in legal marijuana industry

Photo/Courtesy
Cannabis flower growing at Temescal Wellness' cultivation facility.

The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission has rolled out what it calls is the country's first social equity program for the marijuana industry.

The program, meant to ensure the legal cannabis industry is accessible to communities disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs, officially rolled out Wednesday.

Applicants will receive professional training, technical services and mentoring for those facing system barriers, including access to capital.

Applicants for licensees for the program are eligible if they have either lived in an area of disproportionate impact for at least five of the last 10 years and have an income that does not exceed 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level; were convicted of a drug crime and lived in the state for at least a year; or are married to or a child to someone with a past drug conviction.

The CCC identified 29 such communities, including Worcester, Fitchburg, Spencer and Southbridge.

The program offers four tracks aimed at getting an applicant into the business, including entrepreneurship, managerial and executive-level positions, entry-level positions for people re-entering society and ancillary or trade professionals.

According to the CCC, 22 percent of the state's population is either black or Latino, but 75 percent of the state prison population serving mandatory minimum drug offense sentences is comprised of those demographics.

Cannabis regulators in October identified seven vendors for the program, including Cannabis Community Care and Research Network of Worcester, Earthwise Outreach of Boston, Greenlight, Marketing Edge Consulting Group of Holliston, Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council of Dorchester, Point7 of Colorado and QIC of South Weymouth.

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