With Massachusetts' adult-use cannabis regulations freshly in effect, and legal sales expected to start in a matter of weeks, the state must now grapple with how to ensure that legal pot benefits its population as a whole, and not just already well-to-do residents. Social equity programs are on the rise throughout states with legal marijuana, aiming to help individuals and entrepreneurs from disadvantaged backgrounds and communities of color — widely victimized by the War on Drugs — find opportunities for professional success in the cannabis industry.
In Massachusetts, Shaleen Title, member of the state Cannabis Control Commission, is leading the effort to ensure social justice in the state's legal marijuana program. Prior to her position as a regulator, Title co-founded THC Staffing Group, a recruiting firm that focuses on equality and inclusion in the cannabis industry. She also worked as an attorney, using her specialty in cannabis regulation to consult on state and local cannabis policy around the country, as well as to provide expertise for major legal marijuana consultants like Vicente Sederberg and 4Front Advisors. Title also co-authored Massachusetts' cannabis legalization referendum Question 4, which was passed by voters in 2016, and in 2012, she even served as a senior staffer for Colorado's Amendment 64 — the first successful initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in the country.
With a longtime focus on social equity in cannabis, Title, who also served as a founding board member of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, was instrumental in drafting the MCBA Model Bill — the first example of state-level legislation to provide guidelines on how to implement reinvestment and reconciliation processes through marijuana reform. Among Title's long list of accomplishments, she has also served as a trustee for Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and as a board member for Marijuana Majority, the Family Law and Cannabis Alliance, and the National Lawyers Guild. Remarkably, she’s also the only current cannabis commissioner to actually vote for legal marijuana in Massachusetts.