The Arizona Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has identified 87 zip codes where applicants for the state’s cannabis social equity licensed must have lived in recent years. The localities include parts of Phoenix and Tucson and some in the smaller border communities of Nogales, Douglas, and San Luis, and is heavily focused on areas on or near Native American reservations Fox 10 reports.
In all, the state has set aside 26 social equity licenses for 169 total retail cannabis licenses.
DHHS Spokesman Tom Herrmann told Fox 10 that the process for selecting the zip codes “included a thorough review and analysis of a variety of data sources, including research and analyses of criminal justice and socioeconomic data.”
Licensees must have lived in one of the identified zip codes for at least three of the last five years to be eligible for a social equity license in the state. Other criteria include household income and past cannabis convictions for either the applicant or a family member, the report says. Those awarded the licenses must also show how their business “will provide a benefit to one or more communities disproportionately affected by the enforcement of Arizona’s previous marijuana laws,” according to the official program description.
Will Humble, a former DHHS director who now serves as the executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, said that the agency likely didn’t release information about how it chose the zip codes because regulators are likely anticipating being sued; however, he noted that releasing the list was the first time he was “aware of the state of Arizona has basically admitted there are some communities that have been unfairly targeted by law enforcement and prosecutors.”
“They had to be forced by voters to admit it,” he said to Fox 10.
Adult-use cannabis business licensing in Arizona, including social equity applicants, is expected early next year.
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