BOSTON – Vanessa Jean Baptist opened Legal Greens Dispensary last March in what was one of her proudest moments as a child of Brockton.
âWe’ve been through a lot of obstacles and being open and thriving is; I am so grateful, âsaid Jean-Baptiste.
One of the biggest obstacles for herself and other candidates for social equity? Raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in capital to secure a space, product, and Host Community Agreement or HCA.
âWhen we opened, we had no funding. We had to go through investors and there are like sharks who want to take your hosting agreement and your social equity, but don’t want to give you any capital in the business.
State House lawmakers heard testimony on half a dozen social equity bills.
Many have focused on creating a state fund for applicants for economic empowerment and social equity.
Some suggest using a percentage of state tax on retail marijuana businesses. House Bill 177 would draw funds raised through HCAs.
Rolling Relief CEO Devin Alexander testified on his behalf and said: âThe cannabis industry has generated over $ 1 billion in cannabis-related revenues and it is high time that we had these loans and these. subsidies.”
Massachusetts Municipal Association President Geoff Beckwith said in an emailed statement that MMA was very supportive of a fund to help social equity candidates, but that the money should come ONLY from the coffers of the ‘State.
“With well over 1,000 host community agreements already executed, the state cannot pass a law that changes the terms of these contracts,” Beckwith adds, saying the proposal to divert one-third of HCA revenue to a social equity fund is now “a non-starter and probably unconstitutional” and should be rewritten.
House 177 author, Rep Dave Rodgers, told Boston 25 that he was happy to have a conversation about how to fund the bill or rewrite the measure. He says the bill could apply to new HCAs or levy a 3% local sales tax on local sales. Rodgers says the point is we need to help these entrepreneurs from historically disadvantaged communities.
Yet capital contenders like Alexander and John Baptist claim that passing any bill with a substantial amount of funds for startups like them would keep the state’s promise only in the domestic capital provision.
âWhat they promised is now going to be action with funding because you can teach someone how to apply. You can teach someone how to go through the process, but if you don’t have to money, you can’t really go anywhere, âJean-Baptiste said.
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