Arizona Marijuana Equity Program Could Benefit Big Businesses, Critics Say

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“This is a program that, as currently written, is designed to fail.” By Jerod MacDonald-Evoy, Arizona Mirror When Arizona voters approved recreational marijuana use in 2020, the new law included provisions that aimed to give the opportunity of a lifetime to people most harmed by the War on Drugs: a chance to win a coveted license to operate a dispensary. Now, the final licenses to sell marijuana in Arizona are set to be given out through the social equity program, which aims to right the wrongs caused by disproportionate policing of marijuana crimes. They are easily worth millions of dollars—maybe tens of millions—and the system was envisioned as propelling people once arrested for minor marijuana crimes into business selling cannabis. But some advocates say the reality is that bureaucratic hurdles, corporate greed and a rapidly consolidating marijuana market will drive those profits directly into the hands of large companies intent on limiting competition and capitalizing on the billions of dollars to be made selling cannabis in Arizona. “This is a program that, as currently written, is designed to fail,” attorney Julie Gunnigle said to Arizona Mirror. Gunnigle up until recently worked for Arizona’s Chapter of NORML, an organization that pushes for the reform of marijuana laws across the United States. The social equity program, as it was dubbed in Proposition 207, the ballot measure voters approved in 2020 to legalize recreational marijuana, is intended to give minority communities—those historically most impacted by the War on Drugs—the inside track to claiming 26 dispensary licenses. But the pool of potential social equity dispensary owners is limited by both the voter-approved measure and rules finalized last month by the Arizona Department of Health Services. Applicants must meet three of four criteria: Have a low-level marijuana conviction—one that’s been expunged, if it was a felony Have a family member…

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Source : Arizona Marijuana Equity Program Could Benefit Big Businesses, Critics Say

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