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Cambridge Revises Position, Will Accept and Process Applications for Cannabis Businesses

Cambridge will now allow applications for marijuana dispensary licenses after a long legal fight.
Cambridge will now allow applications for marijuana dispensary licenses after a long legal fight. By Sara Komatsu
By Maria G. Gonzalez, Crimson Staff Writer

Cambridge will now accept and process bids for recreational cannabis businesses after a Superior Court judge ruled the city must do so, according to a Feb. 20 announcement.

The Cambridge solicitor’s office filed a motion last week appealing a Middlesex Superior Court decision which ruled Cambridge’s marijuana moratorium illegal. The moratorium — which gave “economic empowerment applicants” a two-year head-start in recreational marijuana sales — violated the the home rule amendment to the Massachusetts state constitution, the judge ruled.

Cambridge defined economic empowerment applicants as businesses run by people who have been disproportionately harmed by past marijuana laws.

During a city council meeting in June, Sumbul Siddiqui — who now serves as Cambridge’s mayor — spoke about the need for the two-year economic empowerment amendment.

“The country's racist war on drugs has heavily impacted and criminalized black and brown folks,” Siddiqui said.“It's our collective responsibility to do the best we can to fight [for] policies that provide equitable access to the wealth and opportunity inherent in this emerging billion dollar cannabis industry.”

Though a Feb. 14 statement said Cambridge would await further action by either the Superior Court or the Appeals Court before agreeing to new contracts with recreational pot companies, the city has revised its original position.

Cambridge will now accept all applications for “host community agreements” from interested parties. The city will also enter into HCAs with qualifying applicants, according to the revised announcement.

In order to obtain an HCA in Cambridge, businesses must submit a statement of interest to the city. Applicants may also be asked to present their information in person so city staff can ask them further questions.

According to city guidelines, a statement of interest consists of a cover letter, a special permit from the Cambridge planning board, a cannabis business permit, a management and operations profile, and qualifying documentation.

Moreover, applicants must submit a plan for “positive community impact” and certification, which mandates that a majority of the applicant’s employees will be minorities, women, or military veterans. Certification guidelines also encourage businesses to hire Cambridge residents.

Finally, if the application is approved, the business must hold semi-annual community outreach meetings.

—Staff Writer Maria G. Gonzalez can be reached at maria.gonzalez@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @mariaagrace1.

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