Frustrated with the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission’s application process and newly proposed delivery regulations, microbusiness applicants and their supporters are planning to rally at the State House this Wednesday, May 8, and have organized an online petition. According to their event page:
Small Local Micro Business has been left out of the Massachusetts cannabis industry … We are gathering to show those in power that we will not remain silent. Licenses have only been awarded to business with capital outside the reach of the little guy. Show support for the industry YOU want in Massachusetts and let the little guy deliver the product you have been waiting for.
We interviewed five supporters of the rally about why they’re disappointed with the CCC as well as the changes they’re petitioning for.
Andrew Mutty (Beantown Greentown, microbusiness applicant): No micro/local businesses have been given licenses yet. The people need to get together and let our voices be heard. … We checked off all the boxes, but we don’t have $50 million sitting in the bank like some of the competition.
Mike Brais (Deep Roots, microbusiness applicant): When local growers are licenced, the big guys won’t be able to compete with our quality and attention to detail.
Averyl Andrade (Between the Rows, microbusiness applicant): Not only are microbusinesses a critical spoke on the cannabis wheel, but [they are also] an amazing opportunity for people who have been disproportionately affected by the war on cannabis to enter into this lucrative new industry.
Ed DeSousa (RiverRun Gardens, microbusiness applicant): Our community has been driven to a point where we need to step up our fight. … We sat back and allowed the commission to license previous medical marijuana companies into the recreational field.
It stops now. The people, the community has had enough. When Question 4 was drafted, it was written in a way that would include small local people to get into the cannabis market. A set of licenses were created for the small timers … the microbusiness license. Look around, do you see any microbusiness licenses being issued? … Instead, you have the same big businesses getting licensed every time the commission gets together.
Currently there is a huge backlog for license applications and we small guys and gals are being drained from everything we have in order to wait our turn. You may ask yourself, Why would it take us so long to apply in the first place? The answer is simple, We don’t buy our way.
We worked with our towns, we created zoning, we paid rent on empty buildings, lawyers. … We have followed all the rules set up by the Cannabis Control Commission, but in the end we are placed on the back burner while our funds are being bled dry. It stops now.
Grant Smith (Massachusetts Patients for Home Delivery): I would like to see the CCC do two things: Firstly, I would like the CCC to create a fast track for reviewing licenses for microbusinesses (cultivators and manufacturers). Currently, those services are being forced, even with local approval in place, to pay thousands of dollars per month to secure warehouse space while awaiting final approval for the CCC. … Some of those small local companies have already paid upwards of $30,000 simply to hold the lease on their warehouse over the past 6 months while awaiting final approval from the CCC. Forcing those companies to continue paying such costs is entirely unreasonable and the CCC should be doing everything it can to create a fast track for local applicants seeking such licenses.
The CCC [should also] include standalone delivery licenses in their final draft guidelines before they vote on those proposals in June. Currently, the proposed format for delivery services would only allow such services to deliver product from an already existing dispensary, and the CCC would review the potential for standalone licenses in the fall of 2019.
While I understand that such a piecemeal approach has its advantages both politically and otherwise (and while I very much applaud the work of Commissioner Shaleen Title [in] ensuring a 24-month exclusivity period for economic empowerment and social equity applicants for such licenses), I worry that standalone licenses will be voted down in the fall. Were that to occur, a permanent model which mandates delivery companies provide only products from retail dispensaries would fundamentally undermine the ability of smaller companies to exist on a level playing field with the owners of such establishments. In no way, shape, or form should the regulations have the effect of giving any sector of the market a monopoly and forcing delivery companies to only deliver product from retail dispensaries.
ED: The Cannabis Control Commission made the rules, but they say it will take a measure by the legislature to change them. Well, reps, listen up. … Look out your window and see the people. We voted for inclusion of local small business, we want inclusion of local small business. We want microbusinesses pushed ahead of the line for licensing. We want equity applicants to get licensed. We want patients to have affordable access to the medicine they need.
This isn’t about me or RiverRun Gardens, this is about you and all the other businesses that worked their tails off trying to get into this industry. This is about our spouses, who have put up with barely making mortgage. … This is about our children who wonder why mom and dad are always working and why they can’t have what their friends have because their parents are paying for empty warehouses. This is for the average consumer who wonders why the state wants them to go to big marijuana for subpar quality when the gray market offers premium cannabis for far lower costs.
AA: [We want] priority status for local microbusinesses. … Between the Rows is a small business comprised of three local farmers struggling to provide our community with healthy produce. We feel farmers should be given the opportunity to supplement their income through cannabis, but … lack of support from the CCC and dirty tactics from out-of-state big money hinder our progress.
AM: There should be some support from the CCC based on micro licensing priorities. We are just looking for a little help to get through the system so we don’t waste money and ultimately fail due to systematic slowdown.
A number of reasons small microbusinesses haven’t been approved. It’s very difficult to find an operational space without spending tons of cash; funding a microbusiness is not a “micro” amount of money. And finally we also believe that big business and big influence is taking a strong front line and getting through quicker. Why and how we don’t know, but we can speculate.
GS: There are a lot of stakeholders who attempt to influence the way in which regulations are written within the Massachusetts cannabis industry, and some of those players have access to a substantial amount of capital and political resources. In order for regular citizens without such connections or monetary resources to be able to participate in our democracy, we all have to pay close attention to what is being said and proposed by our lawmakers and regulators.
Follow Mike Crawford on Twitter @mikecannboston and subscribe to his email newsletter at midnightmass.substack.com. You can listen to The Young Jurks at anchor.fm/theyoungjurks or wherever else podcasts are streamed.
Mike Crawford is a Massachusetts medical cannabis patient and founder of The Young Jurks and midnightmass.substack.com. You can listen to The Young Jurks on iTunes or wherever else podcasts are streamed. This article was produced with support from Midnight Mass and The Young Jurks, where your contributions are greatly appreciated and help us deliver more local coverage.