Social equity is an important topic in cannabis due to the history of systemic inequities against disadvantaged minorities during the war on drugs. These inequities include racial disparities involving marijuana arrests, fines, and sentencing. Although these patterns are beginning to change, much work is still to be done.
If you are a dispensary owner, this guide will help you become familiar with social equity programs, and how to hire based on these programs.
If you are looking to grow your dispensary, or start a dispensary and are part of the demographic historically disadvantaged due to the war on drugs, this guide will help you understand if you are eligible, and how you might apply for these programs.
Black Wisconsinites are 4.3X more likely to be convicted for having marijuana white people.
2021, New York
Across 5 Burroughs, people of color represent 94% of arrests made for marijuana.
African Americans comprised 30.2% of all marijuana possession arrests, yet only 12.9% of the total population.
Source: Norml, 2022, Racial Disparity In Marijuana Arrests
Social equity is the fair and just treatment of all people, including those historically disadvantaged.
This includes people who are black, indigenous, of color, women, LGBTQIA+ individuals, people with disabilities, and other marginalized communities.
Because the criminalization of cannabis has disproportionately targeted marginalized and minority groups, namely the African American, Indigenous and POC communities, there is a growing sense of responsibility among the federal government and cannabis businesses to undo this injustice that has destabilized minority communities for decades.
Social equity programs seek to address the historical injustices of the war on drugs by providing opportunities in the cannabis industry to those most impacted.
This is why the House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment (MORE) Act earlier this year in April. The MORE Act was designed to "help those most harmed by the War on Drugs" by expunging prior marijuana-related convictions and directing resources to the most impacted communities through social equity programs.
Social equity is also important in the cannabis industry because it provides opportunities for entrepreneurship and economic development in historically disadvantaged communities.
A social equity program in cannabis is a government or private initiative that seeks to address the historical injustices of the war on drugs by providing resources such as programs, grants, or other opportunities in cannabis to those who have been most impacted.
Social equity programs typically provide access to capital, technical assistance, and business licenses at a reduced cost or no cost at all. Social equity programs may also set goals for diversity hiring and also set aside a certain percentage of licenses for social equity applicants. Social equity programs vary by state and local jurisdiction, so it is important to research the social equity programs in your area.
Dozens of social equity programs are available nationally and on a state level. Each social equity program has its criteria for evaluating eligibility. Still, one of the main requirements for eligibility is that the applicant has to be from a historically marginalized community.
Social equity programs vary. Some offer opportunities to acquire a license, others may provide grants or hiring initiatives. The typical eligibility requirement is that you represent or are a part of a community that has been historically disadvantaged and/or impacted by the war on drugs
Some programs may also require you to apply for or attain a social equity license and a cannabis business license from your State, while others have residency requirements.
Social equity programs typically require applicants to submit proof of residency, income, criminal history, and other documentation. It is important to research the social equity programs in your area to see if you are eligible and what documentation is required.
You can apply through the program's dedicated portal if you qualify for a program. Social equity programs typically have an online application process. Once you have gathered all of the required documentation, you will need to fill out the online application. Some social equity programs also require an in-person interview.
In the section above, we have provided a list of social equity programs and campaigns - so you can follow the links to apply.
Some of the information you need to have on hand before applying includes:
While being asked to provide all of the information above is rare, it is still wise to have it prepared to make the process more smooth.
Some programs may also require you to disclose if you are already on a social equity program.
Social equity programs typically provide technical assistance and training rather than funding. However, some social equity programs may have partnerships with organizations that provide funding for businesses. Social equity programs may also offer reduced fees for business licenses and permits.
The most effective way for you to hire at your dispensary based on social equity programs is to leverage the various resources the program offers to search for and identify qualified candidates that meet the demographic guidelines of the social equity program you are recruiting through.
Social equity programs typically have partnerships with organizations that provide training and technical assistance to social equity businesses.
These programs may also offer reduced fees for business licenses and permits. You can use these resources to find qualified social equity candidates for your dispensary.
Social equity programs typically have a database of social equity businesses providing opportunities where you can search for qualified candidates. You can also post job openings on the website of the social equity program or visit job fairs and other events where you can meet social equity candidates.
Social equity programs are a great way to find qualified candidates for your dispensary. Participating in these programs allows you to access resources and networks of social equity businesses and candidates.
Social equity programs are a great way to find qualified candidates for your dispensary and to support the social equity movement in the cannabis industry.
Launch a social equity recruitment strategy to ensure social equity is a part of your recruitment process. This can help you identify and recruit from marginalized communities in your area - making your dispensary more diverse and allowing it to reflect the communities it serves.
Social equity programs are a great way to support marginalized communities or get support for your business (if you are part of a historically disenfranchised community). With a social equity hiring program, you can find qualified candidates for your dispensary who understand the needs of the communities they serve.
Working with a social equity program also shows customers and the community you serve you aren't just trying to make profits for your shareholders but are also positively impacting the community your business calls home.
Showing awareness that minority communities have been disproportionately targeted and affected by the war on drugs is the messaging cannabis consumers need to see coming out of the brands they support.
So find a social equity program in your State that you qualify for and apply today.
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