Advocating for Legislative Change: Key Points to End the Vertical Integration Requirement

Arguments Applicable to Both Amendment #204 and H.4409:

  • Addresses Disparities Between Medical and Recreational: Unlike recreational cannabis, which enjoys operational freedom without a vertical integration mandate, medical marijuana operators are currently required to engage in all aspects of the supply chain. Both Amendment #204 and H.4409 seek to eliminate this requirement in the medical cannabis industry. This change rectifies the disparities between adult-use and medical cannabis by allowing small diverse businesses the opportunity to serve patients.
  • Addressing Access Issues Across the State: These proposals address existing disparities in patient access, particularly in underserved areas like islands, Cape Cod, and the Berkshires, where patients struggle with accessing their medicine. Eliminating the vertical integration requirement allows for patient accessibility to improve statewide, as eliminating restrictions can allow for more competition to occur.
  • Tax-Free Access at Adult-Use Dispensaries: Removing vertical integration would allow existing adult-use dispensaries to obtain a medical marijuana retail license and expanding availability of medical marijuana by serving patients.
  • Manufacturing of Medical Marijuana Products: Eliminating vertical integration will enable independent manufacturers to produce specialized medical products with higher potency (>5mg THC), meeting diverse patient needs.
  • New Business Relationships: Reducing operational burdens and opening up wholesale channels can foster business-to-business collaborations that lead to innovation and success in the medical cannabis industry.
  • Action Is Long Overdue: We are asking lawmakers to act to eliminate the vertical integration requirement because the Cannabis Control Commission has failed to act, despite recommendations from their Cannabis Advisory Board to end this requirement as far back as 2018.
  • Fiscal and Regulatory Impact: These proposals only require that an update be made to the Cannabis Control Commission regulations. With no fiscal cost to the state, this can help ease concerns about the cost to implement this bill.
  • Equitable Participation: Includes language that directs the Commission to incorporate policies in the medical marijuana ecosystem that will encourage equitable participation and diversity in the medical marijuana industry. As it stands today there are zero economic empowerment applicants or social equity program participants that operate a medical marijuana business in Massachusetts, due in large part to the vertical integration requirement.
  • Increased Interest: Expanding the medical marijuana program can drive community interest across Massachusetts leading to increased patient enrollment and overall program engagement.
Patient Frank Shaw holding a sign that reads Support Medical Cannabis in Massachusetts

TIPS FOR ADVOCACY WITH LAWMAKERS

Take some time to think about why you support a certain piece of legislation and how it would impact your life in a positive way. Focus your message on how you are connected to this issue and highlight how the solution would impact you. Share your support for cannabis policy with your lawmakers and the Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy throughout the legislative session.