Among the various cannabis legalization plans proposed across the United States, social equity has been one of the core goals in many of these plans. With the passage of such legalization proposals, one would assume that the promises of social equity would be kept by the legislators of these legalization programs.
But how successfully have the states that have legalized cannabis kept to their promises on social equity? When looking at the states that have legalized cannabis, the promises made on the campaign trails seem far out of reach from the current circumstances. Slow rollout of licenses have hampered attempts at providing social equity through the cannabis industry.
New York, Nevada, Colorado, Washington among the States Yet to Fully Commit to Cannabis Social Equity Programs
New York legalization advocates promised to provide half of all of the state’s licenses to businesses operating in communities most adversely affected by the War on Drugs. In reality, however, they have yet to come close to delivering licenses to such businesses.
Nevada is currently experiencing similar challenges. In a state with a 30% Latino and 10% Black population, only a handful of representatives from the two communities were members of the state’s cannabis industry board, with 7% of the members Latino and 2% Black.
This can even be seen among states that legalized recreational marijuana earlier than others. Among the states that fully legalized marijuana, Colorado and Washington were among the first to do so; however, they are only now beginning to implement social equity programs within their respective states.
Such states reflect a concerning trend in the industry regarding their commitments to such social equity programs: they often come about as an afterthought, being implemented after all of the other regulations and programs.
Cannabis Equity Programs and Economically Disaffected Communities: Do They Really Work?
As these programs have been introduced in the states where cannabis has been legalized, criticism has arisen as to how effective such programs are, especially with license holders with little access to capital.
The issues that have emerged in implementing social equity programs have hampered the success rates of such equity programs. California’s social equity program has been hampered by legal battles and shark investors, and such setbacks have left the viability of some of the license holders’ businesses in question.
Along with state-specific issues, the state of cannabis legality at a federal level has further impeded such social equity programs, as many banks and other financial institutions have been hesitant in providing funds to cannabis companies.
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