Equity Programs

The Commission is committed to an industry that encourages and enables full participation by people from communities that have previously been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and enforcement. The agency has developed and implemented equity programs and provisions to meet this mandate and principal, including the Social Equity Program and the Certified Economic Empowerment Priority Applicant status.

What is Equity?

Equity is the recognition and accommodation of differences to prevent the continuation of an inequitable status quo.

What Does Equity Mean for Cannabis Establishment Owners?

In addition to social justice, equity is often used in business to identify ownership and the value of an organization. The Commission defines an Equity Holder in a licensed establishment as a person or entity that holds or will hold any amount of equity in a Marijuana Establishment (ME) or a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MTC).

Owner means any Equity Holder that possesses 10% equity or more in an ME or MTC. Applicants that participate in any of the Commission’s equity programs may be required to have majority ownership of their business.

What is the Social Equity Program?

The Social Equity Program (SEP) is a free, statewide, technical assistance, and training program that provides education, skill-based training, and tools for success in the cannabis industry. The SEP focuses on those most impacted by the War on Drugs, marijuana prohibition, disproportionate arrests and incarceration, and provides education and entry across four areas: entrepreneurship, entry- and managerial-level workforce development, and ancillary business support.

The SEP is not a license type. Upon completion of the program, participants will have the tools and training necessary to apply for and obtain a license; however, completion of the program does not guarantee licensure. Use the guidance and how-to documents in the sidebar or follow this link for more information on licensing.

Program Eligibility Criteria

Applicants or licensees are eligible for the SEP if they demonstrate at least one of the following criteria:

  • Applicant income does not exceed 400% of Area Median Income and residency in an Area of Disproportionate Impact, as defined by the Commission, for at least five of the preceding 10 years.
  • Applicant residency in Massachusetts for at least the preceding 12 months and a conviction or continuance without a finding for a M.G.L. c. 94C offense under M.G.L. c. 94C or an equivalent conviction in other jurisdictions; or
  • Applicant residency in Massachusetts for at least the preceding 12 months and proof that the individual was either married to or the child of an individual convicted or continuance without a finding for a M.G.L. c. 94C offense or an equivalent conviction in other jurisdictions.

Program Tracks

These tracks are designed based on an applicant’s specific interest in the cannabis industry, their current skills, and the outcomes they are seeking from the program.

The Entrepreneur Track is for participants seeking Marijuana Establishment licensure. The program will prepare participants to apply for, own, and sustain a Marijuana Establishment. Courses include but are not limited to:

  • Application and Licensure Process;
  • Business Plan Development and Raising Capital;
  • Operational Compliance and Post-Licensure Operations; and
  • The Municipal Process and Host Community Agreements.

The Core Track is for participants seeking managerial and executive-level careers within a Marijuana Establishment. The program will prepare participants to understand best management practices for cannabis businesses, identify opportunities for managerial positions, and provide hands-on training and education to obtain relevant positions. Courses include but are not limited to:

  • Cultivation and Product Manufacturing;
  • Lab Testing and Cannabis-Specific Retail; and
  • Resume and Interview Preparation for Cannabis Careers.

The Entry Track is for participants interested in entry-level careers within a Marijuana Establishment with little or no experience. The program prepares participants to understand the cannabis plant, legal industry, and entry-level opportunities. Courses include but are not limited to:

  • Retail, Cultivation, and Product Manufacturing;
  • Testing and Cannabis-Specific Education; and
  • Resume and Interview Preparation for Entry-Level Positions in the Cannabis Industry.

The Ancillary Track is for participants who have skills or businesses that support the cannabis industry but are not seeking licensure or employment within a Marijuana Establishment. The program will prepare participants to understand how their current skill sets or businesses are related to and supportive of the cannabis industry. The coursework will also explore how to develop an ancillary business. Courses include but are not limited to:

  • Business Plan Creation and Facility Design;
  • Accounting, Taxes, and Business Compliance; and
  • Branding, Marketing, and Advertising.

Program Benefits

  • Free technical assistance & training
  • Expedited application review
  • Waived application fees; this waiver does not include the costs associated with background checks
  • Waived seed-to-sale METRC monthly program fees; this waiver does not include other costs associated with the seed-to-sale tracking system, specifically the fees for plant and package tags
  • Exclusive access to Social Consumption and Delivery-Only License types, for at least a two-year period, as well as a pre-certification application that provides applicants with a preliminary application process for those two license types
  • 50% reduction of the Annual License Fees

How to Apply for the Social Equity Program

The application deadline for the SEP’s second cohort is May 1, 2020. If you apply for the SEP after the deadline, your application will be considered for future program cohorts. All applicants will be notified by the Commission when application review resumes.

  • Helpful Application Tips:
    • You are only required to meet one eligibility requirement to participate in the SEP. Review the eligibility criteria here.
    • Select “applicable” on the Qualification(s) that apply to you.
    • Ensure proof of residency accounts for the time indicated by each Qualification.
    • Qualification 1 has a minimum Massachusetts residency of five years. Qualifications 2 & 3 have a minimum Massachusetts residency of one year.
    • Select “add offense” when applying under Qualification 2 or 3 to include past offense details (drug convictions are not limited to cannabis). Use this how-to document to assist in completing the application and uploading the required documentation.

Contact the Commission at Equity@CCCMass.com or (774) 415-0200 if you have additional questions regarding the Social Equity Program.