Lawrence compiling data in bid for CCC’s DIA list

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (SHNS) – Marijuana regulators spoke this week with the mayor of Lawrence and are working with the city as it compiles the data necessary to make the case that the Merrimack Valley city should be included on the list of municipalities that the Cannabis Control Commission considers to have been disproportionately affected by marijuana prohibition.

Last month, Commissioner Nurys Camargo broached the subject of adding Lawrence, which has the largest Hispanic/Latinx population in Massachusetts, to the CCC’s official list of disproportionately impacted areas (DIA), a change that would affect prospective marijuana business owners from the city and could lead to benefits for city organizations. CCC Director of Government Affairs Matt Giancola said Thursday that Camargo and his office held a call with Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez on Tuesday in which the mayor said the city supports the addition and pledged to work with the CCC to gather the missing data that has kept Lawrence off the list.

“The city is now reviewing the data the commission needs in order to incorporate their data set into the NIBRS [National Incident-Based Reporting System] data format used by other municipalities in our study,” Giancola said. “In the weeks ahead, commission staff will sit down with the city staff that are identified as in charge of collecting our data, as there might be outstanding questions and perspectives regarding the quality of the data and timeline for distribution to the commission.”

Camargo said it will take “a few months” to collect and analyze the data. Her motion to table further discussion of adding Lawrence to the DIA list until the data and public feedback is collected was adopted unanimously.

Being added to the DIA list would benefit Lawrence and its residents in two main ways. To be eligible for the CCC’s Social Equity Program, an applicant must meet two of four criteria, one of which is living in a DIA for five of the last 10 years. If Lawrence were added to the CCC’s list, residents who currently only meet one of the program’s requirements would become eligible for free technical assistance and training.

Lawrence community organizations could also become the beneficiaries of the kinds of donations that many marijuana companies propose to make as part of the plans to help disproportionately impacted communities that the CCC asks of each marijuana establishment.

Lawrence was not designated as an area of disproportionate impact when the CCC first made the list in 2018 “due to limited data” and a March 2021 study that remains under CCC review similarly left Lawrence off its list for the same reason, Camargo said.

“The omission of a city of Lawrence for the past four years has created inequities in our programming and in our mission. It is imperative that we make an exception to the overall process before it’s too late for one of the most disproportionately harmed communities by the War on Drugs in Massachusetts,” she said last month when she first brought the issue before the full commission. “And honestly, I think everyone here agrees [Lawrence] would fall in the top tier of any list, and should have been added to the list, the first list, four years ago.”

Reps. Frank Moran and Marcos Devers, both of whom represent Lawrence, are also supportive of the city’s inclusion on the CCC’s DIA list and have sent letters of support to commissioners, Camargo said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories