Massachusetts’ marijuana social equity grant program awards $2.35M in launch

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A long-delayed social equity fund intended to prop up small marijuana businesses in Massachusetts has launched.

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healy last week awarded the first grants – totaling $2.35 million – from the state Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund.

The initial 50 grants ranged in amount from $20,000 to $50,000, “with an additional $20 million expected to go out to businesses in the future,” the Boston Business Journal reported.

The administration had promised that an additional disbursement from the fund of up to $27.4 million would be available as soon as later this year.

Paid for by the state’s 15% marijuana sales tax, the trust fund was created in 2022, but “issues” with “the way the law was drafted” kept the  fund “empty for many months,” CommonWealth Beacon reported.

Healy corrected those issues with her midyear budget package approved in December, according to the Boston Business Journal.

And while grant recipients welcomed the cash infusions, some industry advocates worried if it wasn’t too little, too late.

A $50,000 funding won’t “help any business survive,” Sean Hope, who owns Cambridge-based marijuana store Yamba, told CommonWealth Beacon.

With state legal operators “dealing with a host of issues,” $50,000 “will probably get spent immediately,” Ryan Dominguez, who leads the Massachusetts Cannabis Coalition advocacy group, told CommonWealth Beacon.