Massachusetts chooses six vendors for cannabis scheme

The Boston-based Cannabis Control Commission has approved six qualified entities to move forward with the state’s procurement process for vendors that will provide training and technical assistance as part of the nation’s first state-wide Social Equity Program.

The commission’s program is
designed to create sustainable pathways into the legal, adult-use industry for
Massachusetts residents who have been disproportionately harmed by marijuana
prohibition and face barriers to entering the market.

After introducing the program
last summer, the commission began accepting applications from individuals who
seek professional instruction and mentoring for entering the regulated
adult-use cannabis industry and then issued a Request for Responses to contract
with vendors.

“Massachusetts is a leader
nationally when it comes to our legislative mandate to include in the regulated
cannabis industry the communities that have been disproportionately harmed by
the War on Drugs,” said Commissioner Shaleen Title.

“With the help of these vendors, our Social Equity Program, also the nation’s first to be implemented state-wide, will ensure our legal marketplace is accessible to impacted individuals and offer the resources participants need to overcome barriers to entry.”

New vendors

Out of fifteen proposals
received, the commission has approved the following vendors:

  • Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN): a provider of advocacy, research, and education services related to cannabis, which intends to partner with Holyoke Community College for its contract;
  • Greenlight Business Solutions, LLC: a provider of client services for navigating the cannabis industry landscape;
  • Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council (MRCC): a non-profit that seeks to ensure the safety of recreational marijuana consumers by bridging the gaps between communities, local legislators, and Massachusetts businesses;
  • Point7: a woman-owned, tenured, global management consulting firm dedicated to the commercial cannabis industry;
  • Four Trees Management, LLC: a cultivation consulting company comprised of industry professionals focused on sustainability and environmental stewardship; and
  • Marketing Edge Consulting Group: a certified, woman-owned business that collaborates with public and private organizations to help small business owners and budding entrepreneurs.

Curriculum framework

To identify these businesses and organisations, commission staff reviewed submissions over several phases and scored them based on curriculum framework; experience working with minorities, veterans, women, farmers, or other disproportionately impacted communities; experience developing digital content; a timeline for deliverables; and budget.

The selected entities must
now reach a negotiated Statement of Work with the commission and enter into a
Master Agreement prior to starting instruction.

Since the commission opened
the application for prospective Social Equity Program participants in December,
more than 100 individuals have been accepted after demonstrating they meet at
least one of the following criteria:

Residency in a Massachusetts area of disproportionate impact for at least five
of the past 10 years (income may not exceed 400% of federal poverty level);
A past drug conviction and residency in Massachusetts for at least the
preceding 12 months; or
Marriage to or child of a person with a drug conviction, and residency in
Massachusetts for at least the preceding 12 months.

The commission held introductory seminars with two cohorts of Social Equity Program participants last month in Worcester and Boston, and will host additional sessions this summer.

Formal training

In the coming months, qualified vendors will commence formal
training based on four teaching tracks that are designed to meet trainees’
diverse needs and career goals:

Entrepreneurs: those who seek
marijuana establishment licensure and ownership;
Core: those who have existing industry experience (either two to six years, or
seven or more years) and are interested in managerial and executive level
Re-Entry and Entry Level: those re-entering society and those with entry level
industry experience (up to two years) interested in entry level careers; and
Ancillary: those with existing skills that are directly transferable to
supporting cannabis businesses.

Participants will develop
competency in areas such as accounting and sales forecasting, business plan
creation, farming best practices, identifying funds and raising capital,
navigating municipal processes, tax prediction and legal compliance, and more.

State law requires the commission
to adopt procedures and policies to encourage full participation by
disproportionately impacted individuals and to positively affect their

Additionally, a legislative
mandate requires a study of minorities, women, and veteran business enterprises
in the cannabis industry. If obstacles are identified, the commission is
instructed to create training programs designed to achieve their meaningful

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