The Arizona Department of Health Services announced the winners of the state’s 26 social equity licenses last month, the Associated Press reports. In a blog post, Interim Health Services Director Don Herrington said the drawing was live-streamed.
There were over 1,500 applications for the 26 highly lucrative licenses that were created following the 2020 approval by Arizona voters of the state’s adult-use cannabis legalization initiative. The social equity licenses enshrined in the initiative were an effort to give members of communities most affected by the drug war an opportunity to open a cannabis business.
Herrington said Arizona’s process should be a model for other states and that various legal challenges did not delay the licensing process, according to the report. Those legal challenges include a lawsuit by the Greater Phoenix Urban League and a corporation that said the licensing process lacked safeguards, prohibiting things like license transfers and requiring profits from cannabis sales to remain in the community where a business is located.
Those claims were thrown out by a Maricopa County judge in February, who said the licensing provisions satisfied the law, the report says.
In order to qualify for one of the 26 social equity licenses, principal officers or board members owning at least 51% of the business must have met three of four criteria: a household income of less than 400% of the poverty level in three out of four years between 2016 and 2020; a state or federal cannabis conviction expunged; a close relative with a cannabis conviction; or having lived in a community disproportionately affected by Arizona’s previous cannabis laws for three out of four years between 2016 and 2020.
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