Loading...

Fiola files bill to put more local oversight on marijuana applications – News – The Herald News, Fall River, MA


FALL RIVER — Rep. Carole Fiola announced legislation Friday that would alter the local approval process for prospective cannabis companies in Fall River and other Massachusetts communities, the second bill filed in response to the arrest of Mayor Jasiel Correia II for allegedly extorting cash from would-be pot vendors in exchange for non-opposition letters.

Fiola’s bill would require cannabis companies to secure approval from a majority of elected officials sitting on top locally elected boards in Massachusetts communities, which in Fall River means the City Council. The bill would also require notice of a meeting to vote on approval to be posted one week in advance.

“The bill requires that before the chief municipal official signs that agreement they have to put it in front of the City Council for majority vote, and make sure the public knows through a seven-day notice that that meeting will take place and the City Council will vote on it,” Fiola told The Herald News Friday.

Under current state law, communities can establish their own processes for granting local approval to cannabis companies, which in Fall River included the issuance of non-opposition letters. Correia is the sole public official in the city who issues non-opposition letters, which pave the way for license applications to the Cannabis Control Commission.

Correia was arrested for the second time in less than a year Sept. 6 on 11 federal charges related to the alleged extortion of bribes from four prospective pot vendors in exchange for local approval. He has maintained his innocence.

At a press conference following Correia’s arrest, U.S. District Attorney Andrew Lelling indicated existing law could set the stage for government corruption.

“You have a situation where local authorities, local mayors, could be sorely tempted to take some kind of bribe or extort some kind of payment in exchange for a letter, and that single letter can be the ticket to a marijuana dispensary opening a very lucrative business in a given town,” Lelling said Sept. 6.

Fiola’s bill comes one day after 9th District state Rep. Christopher Markey filed a bill that would impose a moratorium on new marijuana businesses opening in Fall River until Jan. 15, 2020.

Fiola, Rep. Paul Schmid and Rep. Alan Silvia earlier in the week asked the Cannabis Control Commission to delay pending applications for cannabis businesses in the city and place a moratorium on retail licenses after prosecutor Lelling announced new charges against Correia, and confirmed the investigation into him is ongoing.

“The legal marijuana industry is new here in the Commonwealth, and there’s a lot of money invested in this industry,” Fiola said Friday. “These allegations are so serious that we looked at the licensing process, which is at question in these allegations and the indictment, and felt that at this time, while the investigation is going on in the federal government, that the Cannabis Control Commission should put a hold on making any final decisions on applications before them.”

Email Amanda Burke at aburke@heraldnews.com

Information from State House News Service was used in this report.

Loading...


Source

error: Content is protected !!