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‘Social-Justice Loans’ In MA Could Make Cannabis Startups More Diverse

“We need a course correction”

Concerned that the state’s fledgling marijuana industry is dominated by white men, Massachusetts regulators are considering an array of new tactics to fulfill their social justice mandate, including offering interest-free loans to cannabis businesses owned by people who were hurt by the war on drugs.

As the first state in the country to include in its marijuana legalization law a requirement to include historically disenfranchised groups, Massachusetts was supposed to be a model for others to follow. But a year and a half after regulators started work, 112 businesses have received licenses, but only nine are woman-owned, and two are minority-owned.

“We need a course correction,” said cannabis control commissioner Shaleen Title, a longtime racial justice advocate, who initiated the discussion at a meeting of the commission on Thursday. “The numbers don’t look good, but it’s very early and we have a lot of control now over what unfolds.”


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