Social Justice: ADHS makes changes to equity application rules for dispensary ownership – Tucson Weekly


As the December deadline to apply for 26 coveted social equity cannabis dispensary licenses approaches, the Arizona Department of Health Services recently revised criteria for ownership, bringing a rare round of praise for the department’s efforts.

Social equity advocates such as Arizona NORML and a coalition of stakeholders have been critical of ADHS and previous draft rules because they believed loopholes created incentives for powerful players who already control much of the industry to game the system.

The main change being lauded is a key provision that apparently closes a loophole that would allow a single individual or entity to sponsor an unlimited number of social equity licenses.

The rules now state that anyone entitled to 10% or more of the applicant’s profits is limited to two applications. 

“Arizonans not only voted to legalize cannabis for adult-use but also supported a sustainable social equity program to those Arizonans who have been disproportionately impacted by the harsh prohibition of marijuana,” Arizona NORML Director Mike Robinette said via email. “This new rule now defines a program that is more in accordance with voter expectations and demonstrates the ADHS has been listening to stakeholders and other concerned parties with respect to the social equity program.”

ADHS will accept applications from Dec. 1 through Dec. 14 for a program that was one of several selling points for Prop 207, which passed with 60% of Arizonans voting in favor of legalized pot in 2020.

According to Prop 207, the social equity program must promote the ownership and operation of marijuana dispensaries by individuals from communities disproportionately impacted by the nation’s long war on drugs.

The updated rules also offer some clarification on applicant qualifications, including that household income for three

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