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The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission is considering the establishment of interest-free loans for minorities as a way to encourage industry participation from minority- and women-owned businesses.

The plan was suggested during the commissioners’ hearing as state regulators were trying to  “course correct” the market, which has been dominated mainly by white males

Massachusetts has tried to increase diversity in business ownership and employees in the marijuana industry. The five-member commission has been accepting applications for marijuana businesses since April.

According to Commissioner Shaleen Title’s presentation, out of the 112 provisional licenses issued up to February 21, only 22 were identified as minority-owned, women-owned or LGBT-owned.

To improve diversity in business ownership, the commission will look at how to provide capital to small marijuana businesses. The commission may ask the Legislature for funding or see how other state agencies provide the same assistance to entrepreneurs.

The commission also plans to give priority to the different minority groups starting from the business application process. The agency will also research  what barriers prevent them from starting a business.

One of the state’s initiatives to increase diversity is a social equity program to provide technical assistance and training to minority applicants. However, out of the 123 given business equity status, only four have applied for a state license.

Title added that it’s not too late to change course in marijuana business ownership, looking at Boston as an example. She said that from zero now, “there are going to be 50 stores in Boston alone.”

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