Great Brook Valley residents now eligible for cannabis business ownership assistance program

Residents of Great Brook Valley in Worcester are now eligible to receive technical assistance and training to become business owners and employees in the legal cannabis industry, as the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission is launching the fourth cohort of its social equity program. 

First launched in 2018, the social equity program is a free statewide technical assistance and training program intended to assist residents who had been negatively impacted by the War on Drugs’ marijuana prohibition and enforcement. The program provides participants with technical assistance and training for both employment and business licensure, including expedited license application review and reduced fees. 

“We are thrilled to welcome a new cohort of participants to join our Social Equity Program. To date, more than 800 individuals have engaged and continue to benefit from the program,” Ava Callender Concepcion, acting chair of the CCC, said in a press release issued Thursday. “As equity remains at the forefront of our work here at the commission, this development is especially exciting coming on the heels of the commission effectuating long-sought-after regulations to implement the Commonwealth’s historical cannabis equity reform law.” 

Participants have access to licenses for delivery businesses, which have been set aside for participants of the program during an exclusivity period of three years and will have exclusive access to apply for social consumption licenses for a three-year period once those licenses are made available by the CCC. 

The agency is in the process of launching social consumption licenses, which will be establishments where adults are able to purchase and consume cannabis on-site, similar to how bars work for alcohol. 

The latest cohort of the program will open for applications on Feb. 5 and include two new geographical regions within its list of areas disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition; the city of Lawrence and Census Tract 7320.01, which comprises the 
Great Brook Valley public housing development in Worcester. 

Great Brook Valley’s tract joins 14 others within Worcester whose residents may be eligible to participate in the program. 

Participants must live in an area that’s been declared one of the disproportionately impacted areas of the state for at least five of the last 10 years and have a median income not exceeding 400% of the municipality’s area median income. 

Individuals who do not reside in a DIA but who have been convicted in the past of certain marijuana-related offenses, or those who have a spouse or parent who’s been convicted for marijuana-related offenses, are also among those who are eligible.

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