Yo, peeps! Let’s talk about what’s been goin’ on in the Massachusetts cannabis industry. It’s been a wild ride, and there’s been some serious drama around those “Community Impact Fees” that are supposed to help out the local communities. Shit’s gettin’ real messy, with lawsuits flyin’ left and right between the cannabis companies and the places they call home.
So, Berkshire Roots, this Pittsfield-based cannabis company, decided they’ve had enough of this bullshit. On August 18, 2023, they filed a lawsuit in Berkshire Superior Court to get back the $440,000 they paid in Community Impact Fees to Pittsfield over the years. And get this, they’re sayin’ that Pittsfield ain’t done shit to show how their company has actually impacted the community. Talk about shady AF!
See, there’s this whole issue with the state’s cannabis legislation. These Community Impact Fees are supposed to be justified by the actual costs incurred by the city because of the cannabis businesses. But nobody seems to know what those costs are or if they’re even real. It’s like a big ol’ mystery. Berkshire Roots is callin’ out Pittsfield for not providin’ any evidence of these so-called impacts. And honestly, I can’t blame ’em.
Berkshire Roots wants their money back, all $440,000 of it. But here’s the kicker – there ain’t nothin’ in the law that says they can actually get it back. It’s like a big ol’ question mark hangin’ over their heads. The state’s legalization law doesn’t address what happens if a cannabis business wants to reclaim past payments that didn’t meet the legal requirements. It’s a mess, man.
According to their complaint, Berkshire Roots has not one, but two Host Community Agreements with Pittsfield – one for their medical cannabis operations and another for their adult-use operations. They’re playin’ by the rules, or at least tryin’ to. But Pittsfield is makin’ it real hard for ’em.
Now, this whole lawsuit is based on some old shit, not the new law. It goes all the way back to the previous statutory framework and a guidance document from the Cannabis Control Commission in 2020. So, Berkshire Roots is sayin’, “Hey, you didn’t follow the rules back then, so we want our money back now.” And honestly, I can’t blame ’em for tryin’.
But they ain’t the only ones fightin’ against Pittsfield. Bloom Brothers, another cannabis company based in Pittsfield, filed a lawsuit last year to get back $110,000 in Host Community Agreement fees. They’re sayin’ the city ain’t given ’em any documentation to prove their impact either. Seems like Pittsfield has some serious explainin’ to do.
Now, let’s talk about these Community Impact Fees. They can be included in the Host Community Agreements, but there are some restrictions. They can’t be more than 3% of the company’s gross annual sales, and they gotta follow all the legal requirements. That seems fair, right? But here’s where it gets tricky.
These fees can only last for a maximum of five years. After that, the parties gotta sit down and figure out a new fee for another five years if they want to keep it goin’. But here’s the catch – this fee has to be reasonably linked to the expenses incurred by the city because of the cannabis business. It’s not supposed to be a cash grab for the city. They gotta show how that money is gonna cover their costs.
And what costs are we talkin’ about? Well, it could be stuff like municipal inspections, overtime for public safety peeps, environmental impact studies, traffic intersection design studies, and even substance abuse prevention programs. But here’s the thing – if a city wants to charge a fee that’s more than 3% and looks more like a donation or a gift, they gotta make sure it meets all the legal requirements for a regulatory fee.
So, these Host Community Agreements lay out all the terms and conditions between the cannabis companies and the cities. It’s like a big contract sayin’ who’s responsible for what. And there’s some interesting stuff in there. For example, the company might have to hire locals or provide paid police details for traffic control. Security is also a big concern, with access control systems and all that jazz.
But at the end of the day, it’s clear that Massachusetts needs to get its shit together when it comes to this cannabis industry. These lawsuits from Berkshire Roots and Bloom Brothers highlight the need for clarity and fairness. We can’t have cities takin’ money from these businesses without showin’ how they’re actually usin’ it. It’s time for Massachusetts to step up and make some changes.
So, until then, we’ll be watchin’ closely to see how this all plays out. Let’s hope justice is served and the cannabis industry in Massachusetts can thrive without all this drama. Peace out, y’all!