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Massachusetts Senate passes sweeping pot reform bill

The state Senate passed a sweeping cannabis bill that aims to clarify some terms of a ballot initiative first passed by voters in 2016, while promoting equity in the industry. “Unfortunately, many barriers continue to prevent those historically harmed by marijuana prohibition from entering the industry,” said Senate President Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, adding that “guardrails” are now in place for the “Host Community Agreement process.” The bill, championed in part by state senator and gubernatorial candidate Sonia Chang-Díaz, would make several updates to the state’s existing cannabis laws, including a first-in-the-nation social equity program for cannabis entrepreneurs. Currently, only about 7% of cannabis businesses are considered “social equity” businesses, according to the Senate. Read ...

Pot cafes could soon be coming to Massachusetts

Back in 2016, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot measure that would allow the option for municipalities to bring marijuana cafes, or “social consumption sites,” to town, where people can gather and use cannabis together, Amsterdam-style. Now, over half a decade later, a legislative move has inched the state closer to making them a reality. “The intent of the initiative that was passed by voters was to allow these, dependent upon the vote of the people of a community,” said Jim Borghesani, spokesperson for the 2016 ballot question to bring recreational marijuana to Massachusetts, and a consultant for the cannabis industry. “The legislation is effective in giving towns that voice that they need to determine if they want these or not.” The cafes have not begun popping up in the Bay State ...

Charlie Baker again pushes stoned driving bill with drugged driving causalities on the rise

Gov. Charlie Baker, frustrated by lawmakers’ inaction more than five years after the legalization of recreational pot, is making a second attempt to cut down on stoned driving. The post Charlie Baker again pushes stoned driving bill with drugged driving causalities on the rise appeared first on The Cannabist.

Budding business: Weed jobs success story in tight labor market

Some businesses have trimmed their hours, changed the way they serve customers, or hiked wages and sweetened benefits to entice applicants as the pandemic-influenced job market reshapes itself. Pot businesses are among those keeping a “now hiring” sign in the window, but for different reasons than the restaurants, hotels and retailers scrambling to get back to pre-pandemic staffing levels. The challenges that cannabis companies face in hiring differ, too — too many applications in some cases, striving to meet diversity and local job commitments and overcoming the stigma of what for decades was an illegal industry. Read the rest of this story on BostonHerald.com.

Massachusetts farmers ‘sidelined’ at Worcester dispensary’s farmer’s market say industry equity programs need work

Farmers who say they have been boxed out of the lucrative cannabis industry due to the high costs of entry were confronted by police as they protested a so-called “Cannabis Farmers Market” event at a Worcester dispensary over the weekend. “Farmers aren’t even getting in the parking lot, let alone sitting at the table,” Westport farmer Averyl Andrade said. Andrade and her husband picketed a so-called “Cannabis Farmer’s Market” event at Worcester pot shop Resinate alongside a mother-daughter farming duo Ominique Garner and Goldie Piff of A.V. Rose Farms in Rochester and about a dozen advocates fed up with the barriers barring them from getting into the businesses. Read the rest of this story on BostonHerald.com.

Boston pot supermarket given green light, may open this week

Published: Apr 26, 2021, 6:37 pm • Updated: Apr 26, 2021, 6:39 pm By Meghan Ottolini, Joe Dwinell One of the country’s biggest legal marijuana companies is ready to open a pot supermarket in downtown Boston — possibly as soon as later this week, the Herald has learned. Ascend is preparing a “soft opening” with a target date of Thursday for a 16,000-square-foot dispensary on Friend Street across from North Station and TD Garden. The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission has backed the shop. It will be the city’s biggest dispensary and wary West End neighbors say they’ll be keeping an eye on how it all rolls out. Read the rest of this story on BostonHerald.com.

Cannabis industry says access to banking services ‘can’t happen soon enough’

Cannabis industry insiders say a push by federal lawmakers to allow banks to provide services to pot shops in states where they are legal “can’t happen soon enough.” “Access to banking and capital is probably the largest barrier of entry for getting into this industry,” said David Torrisi, president of the Commonwealth Dispensary Association. As a haze of marijuana legalization has spread across the nation, banks have generally been unwilling to do business with companies that sell marijuana or related products, which are still illegal under federal law. Read the rest of this story on BostonHerald.com.

Massachusetts cannabis retailers vow to fight marijuana delivery regulations poised for passage Monday

Massachusetts cannabis retailers have vowed a fight over controversial new marijuana delivery rules that regulators are expected to pass on Monday, which prioritize minority applicants and would enable courier companies to buy and sell marijuana wholesale without a brick-and-mortar business. “We’re not holding breath — it’s a done deal. Tomorrow is a mere formality at this point,” said David Torrisi, president of the Commonwealth Dispensary Association. “But we’ll be looking at legislative and legal action. Our fight does not end tomorrow.” The Cannabis Control Commission on Monday is set to vote on a set of draft regulations for recreational marijuana that include two license categories for delivery. The regulations will be a first for recreational pot, but delivery is already allowed for...

Pot shop a no-go in Quincy Market after landlord’s cease and desist

Plans for a pot shop in Quincy Market are on hold for now after the property management firm for the popular downtown tourist destination issued a cease and desist letter for the cannabis retailer, city officials confirmed. The city’s Office a Neighborhood Services canceled a community meeting for Redemption Cannabis after Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation, which handles the leases for Faneuil Hall Marketplace, informed officials it intended to issue a cease and desist letter to the applicant regarding the proposed use, a spokeswoman for Mayor Martin Walsh’s office said. There’s still hope for a cannabis retailer at the site, though. Officials said if the issues between Ashkanazy and Redemption Cannabis are resolved, the marijuana retailer can try again and move forward with the community ...

First Boston pot shop, Pure Oasis, opens to small crowds

Nearly four and a half decades after the late Peter Tosh first sang “Legalize it, don’t criticize it,” his daughter Niambe McIntosh became the first person to buy recreational pot legally in Boston. “Of course: The sativa. We’re islanders; we’ve gotta have the sativa,” said McIntosh, who’d just done a little pirouette to celebrate the official opening of Pure Oasis in Dorchester, Boston’s first pot shop, referring to a type of marijuana. McIntosh, an international cannabis activist who lives near the Grove Hall store, was first patron at Pure Oasis, which is also the first African-American-owned pot shop in the state. Read the rest of this story on BostonHerald.com.

Cambridge appealing decision after pot shop wins fight over two-year moratorium

Less than a month after Cambridge’s attempt to ban a medical marijuana dispensary from selling to all adults for two years was ruled unconstitutional in superior court, the city announced that it has filed an emergency motion to halt the ruling — a decision ripped by the local pot shop. “The City’s actions in pursuing an appeal reflect a contempt for the Court and the rule of law,” Revolutionary Clinics, one of the shops hit by Cambridge’s moratorium, said in a statement. “Rather than working toward solutions and sound policy that can have a tangible impact, the City continues to play politics.” The announcement comes after a Middlesex Superior Court judge ruled on Jan. 24 that the moratorium on Revolutionary Clinics opening a retail pot shop violated the Home Rule Amendment to the Massach...

Boston’s would-be pot entrepreneurs lie in wait as city slow-walks new marijuana licensing board

Two Boston entrepreneurs’ plans to open the state’s third independent testing laboratory to check the safety of cannabis products — including vape cartridges — are being slow-walked as the city works to roll out a brand new marijuana licensing board amid an already slow-moving pot industry. “There is a dire need for marijuana testing and that’s where we are putting 99 percent of our attention … but we need to make sure we don’t get bogged down in the politics,” said Dimitri Pelekoudas, CEO of Assured Testing Laboratories. Pelekoudas and his partner Kris Nykbakken want to open a lab at 43 Freeport St. in Dorchester that would test the safety of marijuana flower, products and concentrates that can contain dangerous solvents and chemicals. State law requires all legally sold marijuana product...