Massachusetts lawmakers approve raft of marijuana reforms

The Massachusetts Legislature approved a series of marijuana industry reforms in a bid by lawmakers to lower barriers to entry for small and minority-owned businesses, jump-start consumption lounges and decrease local fees for cannabis businesses.

According to The Boston Globe, the bill was applauded by a wide swath of industry proponents, especially for its crackdown on so-called local “impact” fees, which some stakeholders have called “legalized bribery” and which have led to at least two federal corruption investigations.

The measure will give the state Cannabis Control Commission authority to approve or reject the local impact fees, Needham TV station WBTS reported.

“It will rebalance the playing field, where so far wealthy corporations have been able to buy their way through the licensing process and too many local, small business owners and Black and brown entrepreneurs have been locked out,” State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz told the Globe.

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The bill will also devote more state money to a Social Equity Trust Fund, which will disperse grants and loans to entrepreneurs harmed by the war on drugs, WBTS reported.

Gov. Charlie Baker has indicated he will likely sign the bill into law.