The medical cannabis dispensary Revolutionary Clinics has dropped a lawsuit it launched against the city of Cambridge over an ordinance that includes a two-year moratorium allowing only economic empowerment businesses to receive a permit for a recreational store.
“Rev firmly believes that the best remedies are developed through collaboration and partnership, rather than restrictions. Although we maintain our position that the moratorium in Cambridge conflicts with state law, we ultimately recognize that this legal conflict needs to end. We have decided to drop the lawsuit and will instead focus more of our time, attention, and financial resources to help build impactful equity programs in the communities we serve,” the dispensary said in a statement Thursday.
Revolutionary Clinics has been selling medical marijuana in Cambridge since 2018 and has sought to add adult-use sales.
Cambridge’s Cannabis Business Permitting Ordinance includes the two-year moratorium during which only certified economic empowerment applicants, part of an equity program through the state Cannabis Control Commission, would be able to receive a permit for a retail dispensary. The ordinance is an effort to help people who have been disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition. The cannabis industry in Massachusetts is largely made of white operators and obtaining capital remains a barrier for equity applicants.
“We recognize that our words must be matched by action and we have begun engaging thought leaders in the cannabis space to study equity programs across the country to assess which approaches have succeeded in helping equity applicants open their doors. Using this information, we believe we can develop and present a program that can accelerate the opening of SE and EE businesses in our communities,” the statement from Rev continued.
The lawsuit led some to boycott Revolutionary Clinics.
“This decision to drop an abhorrent anti-equity lawsuit is a step in the right direction, but there are serious concerns that must be addressed as to why Revolutionary Clinics, only a few months ago, told a judge that such a local equity priority period would be ‘racially discriminatory’ against non-equity owned corporate medical operators,” said Grant Ellis, who in 2019 worked on organizing the boycott.
Court documents filed last year used the phrase racially-discriminatory in referring to the ordinance.
“In September 2019, Defendant City of Cambridge enacted the racially-discriminatory Ordinance that stripped Registered Marijuana Dispensaries (“RMDs”), including Rev Clinics, of their statutory right to convert their medical-marijuana businesses to co-located medical- and adult-use businesses on a ‘priority’ and ‘expedited’ basis,” documents read. “The Ordinance bans RMDs from operating adult-use businesses in the City for at least two years, while simultaneously providing an exclusive preference during that two-year period to a single category of permit applicant, known as ‘Economic Empowerment Applicants,’ that is defined by the applicant’s race and excludes certain races from permit eligibility. Cambridge’s Ordinance is unlawful and violates the Home Rule Amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution in four fundamental ways, each of which is an independent basis for declaring the Ordinance illegal.”
Revolutionary Clinics said it takes pride in supporting economic empowerment and social equity businesses, including through its ASPIRE program. Rev said that program has provided four SE and EE-led companies with consulting, mentoring, flexible financing and inventory.
“We are looking to build on this collaborative approach to create a cannabis retail landscape in which we can all be proud,” the statement continued.