Boston overhauling pot licensing process to close race gap

Boston overhauling pot licensing process to close race gap

BOSTON — Boston is overhauling its marijuana licensing process to boost involvement of minority entrepreneurs in Massachusetts’ burgeoning pot industry.

The City Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance calling for the creation of an independent Cannabis Board to oversee local approval of marijuana businesses.

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The proposal by Councilor Kim Janey also requires half of Boston’s marijuana licenses go to companies from communities affected by the war on drugs.

It also creates Massachusetts’ first government fund to support minority-owned marijuana companies. Boston’s new Equity Fund will be financed through industry fees.

Janey says the proposal makes Boston's "opaque" licensing process more transparent and provides "economic justice" to marginalized communities that have so far been shut out of the marijuana industry.

Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh supports the measure. Massachusetts legalized recreational marijuana sales in 2016.