Pay-to-Play in Massachusetts’ Medical Cannabis Industry?

Massachusetts cities are getting increasingly wealthier off the backs of medical cannabis companies that are agreeing to pay municipalities sizable fees in exchange for the rights to do business, according to an investigation by the Boston Globe.

In the town of Worcester, for example, one dispensary agreed to shell out $450,000 over three years, as well as $200,000 afterwards, if local officials gave the company the green light.

In the town of Springfield, local officials are working on a deal that would get the municipality 7% of a dispensary’s revenues, as well as a $50,000 annual donation to the city police department, which could eventually cost the company “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” the Globe found.

In Salem, just north of Boston, a year-old dispensary contributed over $82,000 to the city’s coffers, the Globe reported.

Granting municipalities such power over MMJ licensing has contributed to the delay statewide of opening dispensaries, medical cannabis advocates say, and has resulted in a snail’s pace when it comes to the rollout of Massachusetts’ industry. To date, only six dispensaries have opened, while 174 applications are still wading through red tape.

5 comments on “Pay-to-Play in Massachusetts’ Medical Cannabis Industry?
  1. Averde on

    MA’s requirement of local approval was IMO at the time of writing, a barrier to Federal intervention, taking a cue from what was going in CA at the time. The downfall is that there was strong regulatory requirements outside of that, unlike CA, and such measures only invite corruption and red tape. The needs of MA residents are not being met and the will of the people not being served.

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  2. Brooke on

    Yep towns are making a buck off the backs of medical patients in need of this kind of care. Thank your town for keeping the cost of this medicine high. They dangle the nonoppostion before these businesses based on host agreements. How come other industies do not hand over hundreds of thousands of dollars to be located within the town of choice? Does cvs, rite aid, walgreens? There should be state laws in place to control this.

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  3. Derrick on

    This is tantamount to *legal* extortion. Towns are assuming that huge profits will be realized and so they want to dip their hand in the cookie jar. Usually, towns will help business even give incentives for a business which will employ local people and pay local taxes, not burden them with fees and bribery which serves to not only hurt patients who need the medicine but also local residents who could earn a living wage in their hometown.

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  4. Cat on

    I have to say I’m saddened but not that surprised. Places like Worcester and Springfield have seen jobs flee and wages plummet. Just look at the mess in Springfield – where they basically sold the downtown to a casino… Cannabis is not seen as a medicine to most policy makers anywhere- it’s seen as revenue. Towns extorting MJ businesses is par for the course. It’ll be “interesting” to see how it all works out

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