8 local towns and cities to be eligible for priority review for marijuana licenses

The commission plans to hold public hearings in February

BOSTON (WWLP) – Massachusetts is gearing up to roll out the legal recreational marijuana industry.

People in nearly 30 communities across the state could be eligible to get priority review of applications for marijuana licenses. Several of those communities are in western Massachusetts.

The law requires that the Commission create policies that encourage people from communities that have previously been “disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and enforcement” to participate in the regulated pot industry.

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But who exactly does that include?

Well, the Commission developed a formula to determine which communities will get priority review, a plan they detailed a public meeting Tuesday.

Under the plan, the commission will take into account a community’s arrest rates, population size, and unemployment rate. Population must be over 100,000.

After looking into this data, the Commission decided that with limited resources, 29 communities would be eligible for priority review and programs.

Eight of those cities and towns are in western Massachusetts, including Amherst, Greenfield, Holyoke, Monson, North Adams, Pittsfield, Springfield, West Springfield.

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People in these areas will be eligible to participate in a program known as the Social Equity Program.

Benefits of the program include waived fees, help with recruitment and assistance with raising funds.

“Those big cities that didn’t make the 100,000 cut off, we could work with community leaders there and explain the point of the program and they can help us do the appropriate outreach,” Shaleen Title of the Cannabis Control Commission told 22News.

The commission plans to hold public hearings in February.