The Massachusetts House passed a bill Feb. 5 that would increase the Cannabis Control Commission’s (CCC) ability to regulate community host agreements, or the contracts between municipalities and the cannabis businesses they host.
Lawmakers voted 121-33 to approve the legislation, which would allow the CCC to review and enforce the agreements, according to a MassLive.com report.
State law requires cannabis business license applicants to enter into a host community agreement with a city or town before the CCC will consider their applications. Current regulations mandate that the agreements should not last more than five years, and that municipalities should not impose fees above a maximum of 3% of gross sales, which is meant to offset the local impacts of the business, MassLive.com reported.
The legislation that the House approved Wednesday would allow municipalities to waive the requirement to have a host community agreement at all, according to the news outlet, as well as clarify that the five-year duration of the agreements begins on the day the business starts operations. The bill also specifies that no financial obligations are permitted in the agreements other than the maximum fee of 3% gross sales.
Issues with Massachusetts’ host community agreements were brought into the national spotlight last year, when Falls River Mayor Jasiel Correia was arrested for extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from cannabis businesses by accepting bribes in exchange for license approval.
The CCC voted in January 2019 to formally request that lawmakers give them the power to oversee host community agreements, MassLive.com reported.