As the first anniversary of the Massachusetts Cannabis Social Equity Fund approaches, its coffers surprisingly remain empty. Established with a promise to support equity-owned cannabis businesses, the fund hasn’t dispensed a single dollar yet, raising questions about the effectiveness of the legislation designed to rectify past injustices.
The Legislation and Its Intent
In August of last year, the Massachusetts legislature passed Chapter 180, creating the Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund. This fund was designed to allocate 15% of cannabis sales revenue to social equity and economic empowerment businesses – licenses that benefit entrepreneurs from marginalized groups or those affected by the war on drugs. However, the ambitious legislation is yet to see any fruits.
Stuck in Technicalities
According to a report from the Green Market Report, the hold-up seems to be a technical issue. The law that birthed the fund stipulates that revenues should be transferred from the Marijuana Regulation Fund to the Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund via the Consolidated Net Surplus account. Yet, the transfer has not happened.
The Promise of Cannabis Sales
With adult-use cannabis sales starting in 2018, business in Massachusetts has been thriving. As of June, the Cannabis Control Commission reports a whopping $132.8 million collected in recreational cannabis sales, contributing to a total of $4.74 billion since 2018.
A Future Yet to Materialize
Despite this financial success, the aspirations of the social equity trust fund remain unfulfilled. The bill, which aimed to correct the balance, has failed to provide support to local, small business owners and Black and brown entrepreneurs, who have been mostly locked out of the flourishing cannabis industry.
While the Massachusetts Cannabis Social Equity Fund was created with promising and equitable intentions, the lack of action has frustrated many. As we approach the one-year mark since the bill’s inception, the state needs to take prompt action to correct the discrepancies and finally start funding these promising businesses.