Massachusetts Lawmakers Look to Address Hidden Costs of Marijuana Business

Two state lawmakers said in a letter that cities and towns across Massachusetts are making agreements with marijuana shop owners that discourage the growth of legal marijuana businesses and make it more difficult to curb illegal enterprises.

The letter, which was signed by Sen. Patricia Jehlen, D-Somerville, and Rep. Mark Cusack, D-Braintree, was sent to the Cannabis Control Commission on July 13.

In the letter, both Jehlen and Cusack expressed concerns over community host agreements, which have been brokered between municipalities and marijuana businesses.

Under state law, community host agreements are required as part of an application for either a medical or recreational marijuana license. But Jehlen and Cusack said other fees contained in the agreements run afoul of state law.

Neither Jehlen nor Cusack were available Friday to comment.

"Three percent of everything that's sold out of the store will go back to the city," said Keith Cooper, the chief of executive officer of Revolutionary Clinics, a medical marijuana company.

Cooper, whose company owns two medical marijuana dispensaries in the Boston area, said it costs about $2 million to open one store.

In its own letter, the commission responded to the lawmakers' inquiry and said it discussed community host agreements at a meeting in December 2017, where it decided not to require commission approval of such agreements.

The commission, however, decided to provide guidance documents for community host agreements.

The commission will finalize the guidance documents at a meeting on July 26.

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