Massachusetts Senators Pass Bills for New Social Equity Fund, On-Site Consumption

The Massachusetts Senate passed provisions to create a cannabis social equity fund, license social consumption spaces, and establish a commission to tackle stoned driving.



Full story after the jump.

The Massachusetts Senate last week unanimously approved a measure to create a social equity fund using cannabis taxes, the Lowell Sun reports. The measure, which still requires House approval, would include forgivable and no-interest loans.

The bill also includes provisions to allow municipalities to approve on-site consumption where cannabis is sold if authorized through a voter referendum or by an act of the City Council or Board of Selectman. The chamber rejected an amendment that would have required voters to approve any proposal to allow on-site consumption.

The Senate also unanimously approved an amendment to create a Special Commission on Drugged Driving, which would require research and development of technology and methods to reliably test individuals suspected of driving while under the influence of cannabis.

State Sen. Mike Moore (D) said that since Massachusetts legalized cannabis for adults, “there has been an uptick in incidents of driving under the influence of cannabis and this remains a significant public safety issue.”

“Drugged driving has long been an issue here in the commonwealth, however, the lack of a reliable test for individuals operating motor vehicles under the influence of marijuana has posed challenges to law enforcement. This amendment creates a commission to help ensure that we remain vigilant to advancements in technology and have updated policies for court proceedings to keep our roadways safe.” – Moore to the Sun

If the bill is approved by the House, the commission would be required to submit an annual report with its findings and recommendations for legislation by January 1, 2024.

The chamber rejected another amendment that would have created a state-funded Host Community Technical Assistance Fund to help municipalities with developing and negotiating host community agreements – which are required between cannabis businesses and the town or city they are seeking to open their business.

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