Financial hurdles stymie diversity in Massachusetts recreational cannabis industry

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Massachusetts’ new recreational marijuana law requires efforts to ensure diversity, but potential licensees and applicants are struggling with financing and local regulatory approvals, a state survey found.

The survey, though small, could offer insight for other municipalities or states looking to encourage minorities and the economically disadvantaged to seek business opportunities in cannabis.

The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission conducted the survey.

Here are some of the challenges reported by survey takers (multiple responses were allowed) that are keeping them from taking better advantage of the commission’s fast-track economic empowerment program:

  • 44.4% say they’ve had difficulty raising capital.
  • 36.5% say they are still developing their business plan.
  • 33.3% say they are having difficulty obtaining local approval.
  • 19% say the desired license type (consumption/delivery) isn’t available.
  • 15.9% say they have difficulty understanding the application.

The email survey – conducted July 20-25 by the commission – was sent to 326 people who had applied for economic empowerment designation, but only 63 completed the survey.

Only 28.6% said they had applied to the program, although another 41.3% said they planned to do so.

So far, only three economic empowerment applications have made it as far as the state for review, according to a report this week by Boston radio station WBUR.

According to WBUR, commission chair Steve Hoffman said at a public meeting Thursday that regulators are committed to the program, but “it’s going to take some time.”