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Social Equity Programs: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Updated: May 26, 2022

First, what is social equity?

Aimed at writing the wrongs of the war on drugs, and systemic socio-economic inequalities experienced by people of color, social equity programs were envisioned to lower the high barriers of entry for disenfranchised cannabis entrepreneurs. Administered by a mix of government and third party organizations, Social equity programs can vary from city to city and state to state. Programs may offer assistance in the form of grants, loans, business advising, Mentoring, legal assistance, local and/or state cannabis business application fee waivers and priority application submission. Each program has its own unique qualifications and process for selecting social equity applicants.

OOOoooh, programs that support cannabis entrepreneurs?! Sounds great, right? maybe on the surface...But in reality, the cannabis industry is still in its infancy. A considerable number of state/local cannabis legislation and social equity programs are not adequately serving their constituencies. There are some great and not-so-great qualities that potential social equity entrepreneurs should take into consideration. Some programs are underfunded and understaffed with limited resources to offer applicants, while others may be flourishing. many social equity applicants are frustrated by the broken promises, and lack of access to capital and resources meant to even the playing field. there's a lot of good that some programs are providing, and Out of the patchwork of localized programs and legalization, we hope that more are getting it right.

Social Equity Programs by state

Curious about the status of social equity programs in your state? Check out Our Dream, a Non-Profit social equity-focused organization that provides free resources for cannabis entrepreneurs.

Here's their state-by-state social equity program list:

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