Massachusetts Public Health Association
Action for Equity in Health   
 July 2017
In This Issue:


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Big news! I am very happy to share with you that the legislature's final FY18 Budget included funding and support for many of MPHA's top health equity priorities, including:
These great successes mean that healthy affordable food, as well as opportunities for safe and accessible physical activity, will be available to more people in our Commonwealth, especially communities of color and low-income communities. These are huge wins for our state, and MPHA could not have done this without your continued support and advocacy. It takes a village and you are part of MPHA's village. I encourage you to learn more about these critical public health victories and what they mean for the health of our communities by clicking on the links above.

Unfortunately, funding to continue the first in the nation for the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund (PWTF) was not included in the budget. This is a deeply disappointing loss, yet MPHA and our partners can be proud of the transformative impact PWTF has had already on individuals and communities and the support we have built for creating a more connected and community centered approach to health care. This loss will not stop us. MPHA will continue to advocate for the Prevention Trust in the current legislative cycle and in future legislative opportunities.

Save the Date! MPHA's 2017 Annual Meeting & Expo will be held on Wednesday, November 29th at the DCU Center in Worcester. 

Thank you for your continued support and for all that you do for health equity.


Jodie L. Silverman
Interim Executive Director
Policy NotesPolicyNotes
Final Marijuana Legislation Has Stronger Public Health Protections Including Promotion of Racial Equity!
On Monday, July 17th, the legislature released its final bill on marijuana policy which included a majority of MPHA's marijuana policy recommendations, substantially strengthening public health protections and promotion of racial equity.

Senator Linday Dorcena Forry speaks at a rally for racial equity in Massachusetts marijuana policy on June 21, 2017
While MPHA identified several areas of concern in its statement on the marijuana ballot initiative, meaningful promotion and promise of racial equity as part of marijuana policy has been a principal concern for MPHA. Stark racial disparities in the enforcement of marijuana prohibition have been well documented. These discriminatory arrests and incarcerations hinder job, education and other opportunities which are significant drivers of good health outcomes. In addition, once recreational marijuana is legalized, communities of color (in particular) that were targeted during prohibition could face barriers to participation in the legal industry due to exclusionary policies and outright discrimination.

The original ballot initiative addressed exclusion from the legal industry by directing the marijuana oversight committee to encourage full participation by members of communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition. However, this language was weak and did not include any specific policies or procedures or a requirement that the oversight committee collect demographic data on the industry. The legislature's final bill creates more meaningful promotion of racial equity in several ways, including requiring the oversight committee to:
  • collect and report annually on demographic data of the industry
  • conduct a study to identify discrimination or barriers faced by racial and other minorities and create policies to remedy identified problems; and
  • give licensing priority to marijuana businesses that can demonstrate experience in or business practices that promote economic empowerment in communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition.
Expungement of criminal records for acts no longer illegal under current marijuana law would address the ongoing impact of discriminatory enforcement by removing records that continue to act as barriers to educational, job, housing and other opportunities. Unfortunately, expungement of records was not included in the final bill. However, the final bill does allow for sealing of criminal records and directs the Department of Public Health to inform people who are eligible. There will be another opportunity to address expungement of criminal records under broader criminal justice reform legislation expected to be debated later this session. 

Disproportionate targeting of racial minorities, especially African-Americans, is not limited to marijuana enforcement but is endemic to the criminal justice system with devastating impact on communities of color. MPHA is currently working with our partners to identify substantive criminal justice reform measures which will address racial and health inequities and promote healthier communities. Criminal justice reform is a public health issue! 
Engagement Opportunities
Want to Join a Public Health Advisory Committee?
The Department of Public Health is looking for applicants for two advisory boards: The Community Health Initiative (CHI) Healthy Aging Fund Advisory Committee and the CHI Statewide Initiative Advisory Committee. 

The CHI program is intended to foster collaborations between health care institutions, local public health authorities, and community-based partners to improve the health status of vulnerable populations and to build community capacity to promote social determinants of good health.

Applications are due August 2. 

Click here to learn more about the Statewide Advisory Committee

MPHA Welcomes Interns
Joseph Coletti is a research coordinator at Partners HealthCare Biobank where he conducts patient recruitment, data management, and the collection of blood samples. Joe has 25 years of executive level management experience and has been a volunteer and board member with several non-profit health and wellness organizations. 
Danielle Lebowitz is a rising 3rd year student at Brandeis University, where she is pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Health, Science, Society and Policy, with a minor in International and Global Studies. Danielle is interested in exploring how MPHA's coalition work and community partnerships further its mission for health equity. 
The Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) is the champion for public health in the Commonwealth. We are the catalyst for change, eliminating health inequities and creating healthy communities for all. For more information, visit us at or call 857.263.7072.