The cannabis industry is without a doubt the hottest market in the world, making global headlines as countries on every continent are reconsidering their position. However, most people— cannabis operators included— are less familiar with social equity, a powerful movement within the industry. Cities across the country are rolling out initiatives to empower those who have been negatively affected by the War on Drugs, reserving scores of licenses for these particular applicants.
Social Equity States
Most states and cities are calling it a social equity program, but it’s also been called cannabis equity or economic empowerment. During the War on Drugs, an outrageously disproportionate amount of Hispanic and African-American citizens were incarcerated and unfairly targeted for cannabis-related crimes. Social equity is an opportunity for those communities that have been negatively impacted and hit hardest to participate in the booming cannabis industry. Those who meet certain qualifications— having been incarcerated for drug crimes, living in a low income area, etc.— can be granted a dispensary license.
While most states are taking different approaches, the idea is the same. California, the epicenter of the movement, has hundreds of licenses reserved for this purpose. New Jersey, Massachusetts, and other states are all formulating their own methods for implementing the program. The various programs have all stalled due to different obstacles, however.
Out of the hundreds of attempts, one successful dispensary has opened in the country so far. There are obvious pitfalls to handing a business opportunity over to someone who is, by definition, disadvantaged and largely inexperienced in the industry. Many applicants’ annual salary are slightly over the poverty line, and they’re expected to raise the necessary funds to build a dispensary. Investors are hesitant to get involved, and applicants are wary of predatory partnerships. The LA Times recently laid out exactly how frustrating the process has been for the people that are supposed to benefit.
So far, this process has involved communities, government, and financiers in an effort to succeed. However, they’ve left out one key component—cannabis experts.
ONE Cannabis Group (OCG) is taking a proactive approach to designing a model that benefits all parties involved, especially the social equity partner. It’s a completely new sector of a fledgling industry, so there’s an incredible amount of opportunity to set the standard. Cannabis is booming, yes, but it’s also a notably-difficult industry to navigate. We believe incorporating successful cannabis operators with a mind to improve the world will be the defining aspect of the program.
Social equity programs are an opportunity to intentionally craft the cannabis business into a force for good in a way that also allows cannabis operators to be profitable. The industry’s business practices are still being developed and the social equity program is an opportunity to consciously mold them. OCG launched its SEED program to do just that— by bringing on a director of corporate social responsibility to run the program and establish relationships with local SEED communities, our company is working with everyone involved to capture the success that’s thus far been elusive.
We’re committed to offering the industry a viable and impactful social equity program. With the amount of licenses involved, it’s guaranteed to have an impact on how cannabis business is done in 2019.