Cannabis Regulatory Update: MA’s Social Equity Struggle, MO Delays Legalization Vote, WA Drug Decrim Initiative

Massachusetts Fights For Social Equity In The Cannabis Industry 

Massachusetts lawmakers and cannabis advocates hosted a virtual rally on April 28 to back House Bill 4440, a piece of legislation that some refer to as “legalization 2.0” reported Worcester Magazine. If approved, the measure will make the most important reform of the Bay State’s marijuana law since legalization some five years ago.

The bill aims to provide better opportunities in the industry to communities of color, addressing the problem of having only 8% of marijuana businesses in the state held by social equity operators.

The proposed legalization would provide 20% of the state marijuana excise tax to the forming of a trust fund for social equity applicants. The fund would be used to provide interest-free loans to members of the social equity programs, enabling access to much-needed capital to start their marijuana-related operations.

“We wanted to provide a pathway into this now legal industry for people who had been harmed most by prohibition, people who had been traditionally left out, or locked up,” Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz said. “Our intent was good, but so far our reality has failed to live up to that promise from 2017.”

Chang-Diaz continued, “If we don’t get this legislation done and on the governor’s desk for signature by the end of this fiscal year, we are going to have to wait a whole other year before we get that money flowing into the hands of Black and brown entrepreneurs.”

Missouri House Leadership Postpones Marijuana Legalization Vote

The Missouri House of Representatives postponed consideration of a GOP-led marijuana legalization measure on Monday. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Ron Hicks (R), told Marijuana Moment that leadership is standing in the way, pushing him to urge action from supporters.

The main issue noted by the House floor leader is that the bill lacks licensing caps for cannabis businesses in the state. Hicks noted that he is not interested in caps and that House Majority floor leader Dean Plocher (R) has asked for a meeting to further discuss the legislation before it is considered.

According to Hicks, this is “another hold-up,” as he’s “never been asked to be spoken to before on legislation” by leadership and wanted to discuss the measure on the floor.

Slim Majority Of Washington State Voters Back Drug Decriminalization Ballot Measure 

A new poll reveals that the drug decriminalization ballot measure in Washington State has slightly more backers than opponents, reported Marijuana Moment. 

Initiative 1922 aims to remove the state’s penalties for drug possession and secure more than $140 million annually in state funds to support more treatment options and recovery services for those individuals dealing with substance use disorder.

A survey from March revealed that 1 in 6 voters back the initiative, or more precisely: 46% of respondents said they would “definitely” or “probably” vote for the initiative based on its ballot summary, while 37% would “definitely” or “probably” vote against it. Some 17% were undecided, out of which 6% leaned toward supporting it, 2% leaned toward opposing it and 9% remained completely undecided.

Photo by Esteban Lopez on Unsplash

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