Insa News

Holyoke Cannabis Event to Focus on Equity in the Cannabis Industry and MA Veterans Cannabis Study Data Release

Joseph Bonafilia   April 15, 2019  

April 12th, 2019 - Holyoke, MA - Massachusetts is the first U.S. state to implement a state-wide social equity program in the cannabis industry and has done so by creating opportunities for those disproportionately impacted by the drug war to have priority access in the industry and broader social equity program. As the CCC gears up in 2019 with targeted technical assistance for economic empowerment and social equity applicants, there is the opportunity to encourage private sector collaboration and cooperation among big and small businesses in the emerging MA cannabis industry.

Veterans Alternative Healing Inc. (VAH), Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN), and Joint Venture & Co are hosting an event in Holyoke, MA on April 18 at Gateway City Arts on the topic of Cannabis Equity: Big business and small business working together. Register for the FREE event here:

As the MA Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) continues to actively bolster the states social equity program, a complimentary and collaborative effort from the private sector can support to ensure those disproportionately impacted by the drug war have meaningful inclusion in the cannabis industry.

As of April 4, the CCC has received 3,062 total applications, and only 347 (13%) from companies identified as “Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE). To date, 87% of applicants did not identify as a DBE, 0.3% were disability-owned, 0.9% veteran-owned, 1.4% LGBTQ-owned, 2.3% minority-owned and 2.9% women-owned, and 4.9% identified as two or more DBE types. The lack of diversity is clear, and as the CCC baseline study reports, capital is the largest barrier to entry for minority and small owned businesses. In addition to other efforts the CCC is taking to address identified barriers, the CCC is also actively looking for qualified training vendors for the social equity program expected to launch this year.

With over 3,000 applications into the state, the majority of new applications and total are located in Central and Western Massachusetts.

The second 2019 Cannabis Advancement Series event in Massachusetts will be held on April 18, 2019 at Holyoke Gateway City Arts and will focus on discussing the issues of meaningful equity in the cannabis industry, and how big and small business can work together in Massachusetts, and specifically in Western MA.  

Keynote speakers for the event include Cannabis Control Commissioner Steve Hoffman, Veteran CEO Chapman Dickerson from BASK, and MRCC Community Director, Joe Gilmore. Two panel discussions will be held at the event. The first will focus on inclusion and diversity in entrepreneurship and employment, and ideas for constructive collaboration across the industry. Speakers include Commissioner Steve Hoffman, Stephen Mandile, Karima Rizk, Shamika Rucker, and Horace Small. The second panel will focus on policy, business, and education models in Western MA for inclusion and diversity, with speakers Mayor Alex Morse from Holyoke, Mayor Nicole LaChapelle from Easthampton, Mark Zatyrka from Insa, and Jeff Hayden from Holyoke Community College. 

Study data from the VAH, C3RN, and UMass Dartmouth ongoing Veterans Health and Medical Cannabis Research Study will be released at the event as well.

Veterans interested in participating in the study will complete an anonymous online survey and see how their results compared to other participating veterans’ answers. All study participants will receive access to cannabis-related discounts, attend monthly support groups managed by VAH, and can elect to participate in additional clinical cannabis studies.  The study team has partnered with the Massachusetts Chapter of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Revolutionary Clinics, AmeriCann, BASK, The Botanist, The Healing Rose, Insa, and Central Ave Compassionate Care. Study media sponsors include: NECANN, SENSI Magazine, and Weedmaps. For participating in the study, veterans will receive discounts from the following cannabis and wellness companies in Massachusetts: Revolutionary Clinics, AmeriCann, BASK, The Botanist, The Healing Rose, Insa, and Central Ave Compassionate Care. Veterans can take the survey here:

Cannabis Advancement Series Event #2:

April 18, 2019 – 5:30 - 9:30 PM

Gateway City Arts, Holyoke, MA

Register for a free ticket here:

To learn more about the Veterans Citizen Science Study or Cannabis Advancement Event Series and how to get involved as a participant, event sponsor, or partner, contact: or visit: or visit

About Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN)

Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN) is a public benefit corporation (B Corp) based out of Worcester, MA that specializes in providing high-quality research and analytic services related to the impacts of medical and adult-use recreational cannabis. C3RN is currently establishing a nonprofit research entity to house a virtual Cannabis Center of Excellence and all academic research activities. As a social justice-oriented research and analytics company, C3RN specializes in designing, monitoring, and evaluating models of integrating adult-use and medical cannabis to positively impact social, clinical, and public health outcomes. C3RN runs and national anon cannabis consumer and patient survey in addition to a veterans health and cannabis research study in Massachusetts. Learn more at:

About Veterans Alternative Healing (VAH)

Veterans Alternative Healing provides education, services, support, advocacy and opportunities for and to veterans interested in utilizing alternative healing approaches and methodologies in treating ailments or conditions which affect them mentally, physically, emotionally, or psychologically thereby reducing the use of opiates and other pharmacological drugs used to suppress and temporarily manage pain, symptoms, and mental health concerns without stigma. Learn more at

About Joint Venture & Co (JVC)

Joint Venture & Co is a Boston-based business development agency partnering up with entrepreneurs, non-profits, and small businesses to facilitate their communications needs, increase their market value and brand exposure. They take a holistic approach to position their client’s message and mission to a standard of influence, trust and integrity.