Model Host Community Agreement Released by Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission: What You Need to Know

By David M. Ullian, Tim Callahan

Mar 7, 2024

Pursuant to Chapter 180 of the Acts of 2022, An Act Relative to Equity in the Cannabis Industry, which went into effect in November 2022, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (the “CCC”) is required to develop a Model Host Community Agreement for the cannabis industry. After soliciting public feedback on the initial draft, the CCC released the final version of its Model Host Community Agreement (the “Model HCA”) on March 5, 2024, and updated some of its license application forms and processes.

Below, you will find answers to common questions that prospective and existing cannabis business operators in Massachusetts are likely asking about the new Model HCA and updates to license application forms and processes.

What Is a Host Community Agreement?

A Host Community Agreement (HCA) is a contract between a cannabis business and the municipality in which the cannabis business is located. The HCA must state the conditions for having the cannabis business operate within the host community, including the agreed-upon responsibilities of the cannabis business and the host community.

The HCA may include a condition requiring the cannabis business to pay a Community Impact Fee (“CIF”) that is reasonably related to the actual, documented costs imposed upon the municipality by the cannabis business’ operations, as long as the CIF complies with the CCC’s new regulatory requirements. A more detailed overview of the new regulatory requirements for HCAs is available here.

Is a Cannabis Business Required to Have an HCA?

Under state law, specifically M.G.L. c. 94G § 3(d), all cannabis businesses are required to negotiate, enter, and maintain a valid HCA that complies with state law and the CCC’s cannabis regulations

However, a host community may choose to waive the HCA requirement altogether by submitting a signed and compliant HCA Waiver to the CCC.

The CCC now has statutory authority to review, regulate, enforce, and approve HCAs. The CCC now requires all cannabis business license applicants to submit an HCA or an HCA Waiver as part of the initial license application, and all existing licensees are now required to submit an HCA or HCA Waiver as part of annual license renewal applications. The CCC will review each submitted HCA to determine whether it complies with the CCC’s regulatory requirements for HCAs.

What is the Model HCA?

The Model HCA is a template host community agreement created by the CCC to illustrate an HCA that complies with applicable state law and the CCC’s current regulations. The Model HCA can be utilized by license applicants, licensees, and host municipalities in three ways:

  1. As a template starting point that can then be modified to include additional or revised terms negotiated in good faith by the parties;
  2. As a “fill-in-the-blank” new HCA; or
  3. As an interim agreement for licensees and municipalities to quickly establish a compliant HCA if additional time is needed to revise an existing HCA or negotiate a new HCA.

Under the CCC’s regulations, a signed HCA that the CCC determines to conform with its Model HCA will be presumed compliant.

Where Can I Find the Model HCA?

A PDF copy of the CCC’s Model HCA can be accessed online here.

What Other Updates Did the CCC Make to the Application and Renewal Processes?

The CCC has also made changes to various application forms and processes to reflect the amended cannabis regulations that went into effect in October of last year.  The most significant change is that a compliant HCA or HCA Waiver must now be submitted with a Change of Ownership and Control Application and a Change of Location Application. However, other updates have also been made, and it is advisable to closely review and understand the new application requirements to maintain regulatory compliance.

Considering that a compliant HCA or HCA Waiver is required for every adult-use and medical cannabis business in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it is crucial to understand and comply with the CCC’s regulatory requirements for HCAs to minimize potential negative impacts on licensure and the risk of administrative enforcement actions. The Model HCA can be a useful tool to help both cannabis businesses and host municipalities quickly satisfy the CCC’s HCA requirements. 

License applicants and licensees should also be aware of the CCC’s new requirements and processes for various types of applications to ensure that complete and compliant applications are submitted and approved efficiently.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss the new Model HCA, the CCC’s regulatory requirements for HCAs, or updated license application requirements and processes further, please contact David M. Ullian in our Boston Office at or 617-752-7148.


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