Easthampton council working on pot license set-asides for equity applicants

  • Easthampton City Councilors Owen Zaret, left, and Thomas Peake attend the first day of recreational marijuana sales at INSA in Easthampton on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018.

Staff Writer
Published: 8/14/2019 11:19:20 PM

EASTHAMPTON — The Easthampton City Council has continued a public hearing on an ordinance that would increase Easthampton’s recreational marijuana retail licenses from six to eight and dedicate three of the city’s licenses to equity applicants.

Voting at their Aug. 7 meeting, councilors agreed that after review by the city attorney, the retail zoning amendment will be taken up again at the council’s next meeting on Sept. 4.

Those able to qualify as equity applicants include Economic Empowerment Applicants certified by the Cannabis Control Commission or the Easthampton Planning Board, Social Equity Program applicants from the CCC-sponsored Social Equity Program, minority business enterprises, women business enterprises, disabled veteran business enterprises, veteran business enterprises, LGBT business enterprises, disabled-owned business enterprises, and enterprises owned by people who have been continuous residents of Easthampton for at least five years and that have majority Easthampton resident ownership.

“The industry’s become dominated by giant corporations,” City Councilor Owen Zaret said at the meeting, expressing the hope that Easthampton residents, including marginalized and minority residents of Easthampton, would have a stake in the cannabis industry. 

“Easthampton supports diverse business owners,” Zaret said.

Easthampton resident Karima Rizk also spoke at the meeting.

“This ordinance in particular is very personal to me,” she said.

She had wanted to apply for a license for a retail store, but faced many hurdles as a woman, as a person of color, and as a local resident and as a small business, she said.

“I just want to personalize it for you and give you a face of someone in your community that could benefit from this ordinance and, hopefully with the right business environment, still could in the future,” Rizk said.

Speaking Wednesday, Zaret said that allowing the “little person” to participate in the industry would make people feel better. 

He also said that there may be six applications for recreational marijuana retailers in Easthampton that have been granted or are in the application process, and if that’s the case the amendment may need to be looked at again.

“It’s something we would have to talk about,” he said.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

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