‘Social equity’ applicants making inroads, gradually, in cannabis business

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HOLYOKE — The first time lifelong Holyoke resident Damaris Aponte sold marijuana, she was 14 and growing up in a city deeply impacted by the so-called War on Drugs. She saw many people she knew get arrested on drug charges, and her own brother was killed in the city’s drug-related violence.

“It’s been a big impact, coming from this community,” she said. “So many people have gone to jail.”

But today, things look very different for Aponte, who has been working hard to create her own cannabis delivery business, Blossom Flower. She spent two decades in the field of medical office management before deciding to follow her dream, which has been made possible by a state program to smooth the path into the marijuana industry for people like her.

Aponte is an applicant through the state Cannabis Control Commission’s “social equity” program, earning her delivery, cultivation and, soon, manufacturing licenses through the agency, which regulates…

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