SOCIAL EQUITY CANNABIS LICENSING OPPORTUNITIES
What Does Social Equity Mean in the Cannabis Space?
Equity acknowledges the systematic inequalities that exist in society and seeks to remove them. In cannabis, social equity processes help minority business owners or those who were adversely affected by the war on drugs, participate in the industry.
More and more states throughout the country are incorporating social equity into their marijuana programs in efforts to build a more inclusive and diverse cannabis market.
Social equity and DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) initiatives offer positive transformation and greater representation across the market with the added community benefit of elevating marginalized groups.
Ultimately, these programs help reduce barriers of entry for those who qualify and who want to be a part of a global industry with widespread economic opportunities.
Who Qualifies for Social Equity?
Social equity qualifications for cannabis-related businesses vary depending on the state legislation. However, there are common criteria often used to identify social equity applicants. Examples are outlined below:
- Disproportionately impacted areas: Applicants may qualify if they reside or have resided for a certain number of years in an area disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. These areas are often identified by high rates of arrests, convictions, and incarcerations related to cannabis offenses.
- Criminal record: Some programs offer eligibility to individuals who have been arrested for and/or convicted of a cannabis-related offense. This recognizes that past criminalization disproportionately affected certain communities.
- Income level: An applicant’s annual income must not exceed a certain threshold, typically relative to the area median income (ami).
- Ownership: Some programs require that the business is majority-owned (51% or more) by individuals who meet the social equity criteria.
These qualifications can differ significantly between different states. Therefore, it’s essential to review the specific requirements of the local jurisdiction where one wishes to establish a cannabis business.
States with Social Equity Cannabis Programs