The cannabis consultants at Point Seven Group are experts in US social equity markets. We have successfully helped our social equity clients obtain cannabis licenses, design dispensaries, build identifiable cannabis brands, and operate compliant cannabis businesses. Our team of cannabis experts can help you reach your social equity business goals in US cannabis markets!
WHAT IS SOCIAL EQUITY?
While the terms “social equity” and “community engagement” get thrown around a lot in the cannabis industry, few actually take the time to consider the true intent and objective of these programs. Social equity in the cannabis industry does not mean equality, fairness or diversity, but rather allows those who have been disproportionately impacted by The War on Drugs, either through an arrest or living in a disadvantaged community, to more easily participate in the legal cannabis industry.
WHICH STATES HAVE SOCIAL EQUITY PROGRAMS?
Most of the first states to legalize cannabis, including Colorado and Washington in 2012, did not include provisions that state licenses to grow, process, or dispense marijuana would be distributed equitably or would positively impact disadvantaged communities. Only six of the 18 states that have enacted some cannabis laws since 2016 have taken measures to increase diversity in their programs.
If the objective was diversity or equality, the programs would be much more driven towards increasing the variety and equal status in rights and opportunities - but we have yet to see any state program nail this yet. Because efforts toward social equity are still in their infancy, many are concerned those who are to be empowered could reap the least amount of benefits, remain vulnerable and feel disconnected or forgotten.
SOCIAL EQUITY IN CALIFORNIA
California has been a market leader in the vein of cannabis social equity programs. California has a state-level program to help local governments with their equity ordinances to provide loans, grants, and technical assistance to minority and economically disadvantaged business owners. On the local level, only Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento have taken it upon themselves to also implement social equity programs, with varying degrees of successes and failures.
Sacramento: Depending on the type/tier, equity applicants shall be eligible for services offered by the business support center including the expungement of criminal records, priority conditional use permit and business operations permit processing, and fee waiver or deferral. Other components of the program, such as criteria to qualify for any of the services offered as well as the various levels of support available to participants, are still being developed through a collaborative effort with local community organizations.
Oakland: Equity Applicants shall be eligible for participation in the Equity Assistance program, which will include industry-specific technical assistance, business ownership technical assistance, no interest business start-up loans, and waivers from city permitting fees.
San Francisco: Equity applicants are entitled to priority permit processing.
Los Angeles: Depending on the type/tier, equity applicants shall be eligible for waived fees, technical assistance, expungement assistance, business and compliance training, and access to the Industry Investment Fund (if established).