Cambridge City Council passed legislation Monday evening that lights the way for recreational marijuana firms to open in Cambridge.
The council voted 7- in favor of the “ Cannabis Organization Permitting Ordinance,” with Councilors E. Denise Simmons and Timothy J. Toomey, Jr. abstaining. Due to the approval of an amendment by Councilors Sumbul Siddiqui and Quinton Zonervan final week, the legislation will prioritize granting permits to these from historically marginalized groups, which includes girls, minorities, and these who have been impacted by the war on drugs.
Prior to the vote, Siddiqui praised the measure as an efficient way to fight inequity.
“The country’s racist war on drugs has heavily impacted and criminalized black and brown people,” she stated. “It’s our collective duty to do the most effective we can to fight [for] policies that supply equitable access to the wealth and chance inherent in this emerging billion dollar cannabis business.”
Councilor Craig A. Kelley stated he appreciates the “good faith efforts” produced by all parties in the debate, and that the law, although flawed, is a good step.
“I assume the state gave us a law that was imperfect, and history gave us a series of horrible issues that are worse and imperfect, and we all are attempting to do our most effective to bring us to a superior spot,” he stated. “This is not exactly where I would have gone, but undoubtedly, I assume it is superior than it would have been.”
Although Massachusetts legalized the use of marijuana in 2016, Cambridge did not contemplate legislation on irrespective of whether firms can sell the drug for recreational use till earlier this year.
In current months, the debate has focused on two proposed amendments — 1 by Siddiqui and Zondervan and the other by Simmons — to the permitting ordinance.
Siddiqui and Zondervan’s amendment advocates for imposing a two-year moratorium on the opening of recreational marijuana shops whose owners do not come from historically marginalized groups. In a June interview, Siddiqui known as the amendment a “head start” for regional firms more than bigger corporations.
Simmons’s amendment known as on the city to permit existing registered healthcare marijuana dispensaries to commence promoting recreational marijuana if they contribute annually to a fund that assists “economic empowerment” firms — these that are run by persons who have been disproportionately harmed by previous marijuana laws.
In a meeting final week, the Ordinance Committee eventually decided to advance a version of the bill with Siddiqui and Zondervan’s amendment — but not Simmons’s — to the council for consideration.
Simmons stated ahead of the Monday vote that although she agrees with the intent of the proposal, she is disappointed with its final type.
“I assume we are eventually going to appear back at this moment and regret how we have selected to go about this,” she stated. “We will be embracing a moratorium that leads to uncertainty as nicely as additional unnecessary and costly delays.”
The inclusion of Siddiqui and Zondervan’s amendment also signifies that existing healthcare marijuana dispensaries not falling below the “historically marginalized groups” situations will not be in a position to sell recreationally till the two-year period has lapsed. Zondervan stated in an interview Monday that he believes dispensaries will not be considerably impacted financially by the new law.
“We’ll hopefully address some of the inequity by supplying possibilities for black and brown entrepreneurs to advantage from cannabis legalization,” he stated. “I assume that the healthcare dispensaries will continue to serve their sufferers, and I also hope that they make excellent on their promises to aid the Financial Empowerment applicants.”
Prior to the vote, various Cambridge residents spoke about the legislation through the portion of the meeting open to public comments. Nichole Snow, executive director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, stated she believes healthcare marijuana dispensaries and sufferers will be negatively impacted. Previously, she has argued that healthcare marijuana dispensaries unable to sell recreational marijuana will not be in a position to compete with new firms and could leave Cambridge.
“Patients are not asking for a handout. We’re only asking for our civil rights to be respected, and it’d be delayed for a further two years,” she stated.
Cambridge resident Richard Harding stated he supports the measure, and that he is “grateful” for the discussion on the challenge.
“You know, at times these processes are not simple to get via,” he stated. “And I know that when feelings are higher, distinctive issues occur.”
— Declan J. Knieriem can be reached at [email protected] Comply with him on Twitter at @DeclanKnieriem.