Adult use licensees reach some – not all – diversity goals, review of Mass. data shows

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By Cynthia Fernandez, Grown In Cannabis Industry News and Education

Published: April 13, 2022

How many Mass. cannabis licenses are diverse?

Tally of Massachusetts adult use licenses and applications for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise status:

  • Not a DBE (1,032)
  • Other (53)
  • Veteran-Owned Business (49)
  • Women-Owned Business (175)
  • Minority-Owned Business (227)

As of March 28. 2022.

Chart: Cynthia Fernandez/Grown In Source: Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.

AGrown In review of required diversity plans submitted by Massachusetts’ adult use cannabis license holders finds that many are getting close to attaining their goals, but overall the state’s cannabis workers remain largely white and male. Despite this, the Bay State is ahead of most other states, as 15% of its adult use cannabis licenses are held by minority business owners, according to self-reported data collected by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC).

In Massachusetts, every adult use cannabis license applicant must file a diversity plan, which outlines goals, programs, and measurements the adult use business would pursue once licensed, according to guidance from the CCC. Plans should include a realistic timeline and targeted audience of each program.

Of the top 12 license holders in the state with six or more provisional, pre-certified licenses or submitted applications, Grown In was able to obtain original diversity plans for just a handful of the companies. Many had the required number of goals, but were missing definite timelines for these goals.

Four of the companies had their original applications with diversity plans available through the CCC’s website. All 12 of the companies were contacted, but only half responded – and of those, four agreed to an interview.

Applicants are required to show their progress in annual application renewals. And, according to regulations, these diversity plans have teeth: the CCC is empowered to revoke, suspend, or deny renewal of applications if “substantial progress” toward the diversity plan has not been made.

However the CCC did not confirm that it had ever used its full powers to reprimand businesses that fail to reach the goals in their diversity plans. The CCC does make recommendations to revisit plans prior to renewal if no or limited progress has been made towards their goals.

As of March 2022, 70% percent of registered agents were white in a state where non-Latino caucasians make up 80% of the population. Black people make up 7% of cannabis workers and 9% of the state’s population, Latinos and non-white Hispanics make up 9% of licensee staff and 12% of the state’s demographics.

Read the full story on Grown In.

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