There will be a lot of business opportunities coming to Massachusetts with retail pot, and the Cannabis Control Commission is following a mandate from the state Legislature to make sure some of them go to people in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of former marijuana laws.

"It's very well established that across the country — and Massachusetts is no exception — that there have been significant racial disparities in the way that marijuana prohibition has been enforced," said Commissioner Shaleen Title, who previously ran a recruiting firm focused on increasing diversity in cannabis businesses. "And I give so much credit to the Legislature for the way that they proactively addressed that question and gave us these mandates to make sure those communities are identified and then included."

The commission supported Title's recommendations on how to do that when they issue licenses.

"If you yourself are from one of those communities, the people you hire are from those communities, if you hire people with drug convictions, and there are other ways you can demonstrate to us that you meet that criteria, you would go to the front of the line," Title said.

Applicants would also get credit for hiring people with prior drug convictions. The commission will also provide technical assistance in creating a business plan and navigating legal compliance issues. 

The commission will continue voting on draft regulations through next week. Those regulations will then be open to public comment before being finalized in March.