The move towards legalizing cannabis has spurred many benefits, such as state revenue, medicinal therapy, and a legal alternative to combat the opioid epidemic.
However, a less publicized effect from the repeal of cannabis prohibition is the social equity provisions that many states have been implementing.
What Is Happening?
As states begin to legalize marijuana on a recreational basis, they are also trying to simultaneously implement social equity provisions. These provisions are seen as a way to make amends for individuals who have been unfairly targeted for marijuana offenses in the past.
Legislators seem to have the common sense viewpoint that it’s hypocritical that some individuals are benefiting off the legalization of marijuana by purchasing licenses, while others have criminal records for similar actions.
Yes, a counter-argument can be made that a big difference is that one is being done under a legal umbrella and the other was not, but regardless, states are trying to find an equitable solution as best they can.
Illinois: Leading The Change
The state that seems to have the most progressive social equity provisions, is Illinois. Governor J.B. Pritzker made social equity a key platform as part of the legislation to legalize marijuana.
Governor Pritzker made sure that certain provisions were added to the legislation. For one, any low level drug offenses would be expunged. Secondly, and more importantly, the Illinois legislation provides tools for individuals with those expugnable offenses to benefit from the legalization of cannabis.
There are a finite amount of licenses in Illinois, thereby making them a very valuable commodity. Knowing the value of these licenses, Illinois created easier access to obtain a license on two social equity conditions:
- If an application is majority owned by people in poor and disproportionally impacted areas
- If an application proves that it is majority owned by an individual with one of the aforementioned expugnable offenses.
As more and more states legalize cannabis, there will be more opportunity for social equity.
While the benefits of cannabis, hemp, and CBD are well documented, an unintentional by-product of legalizing marijuana could very well be a significant stride in creating social equity programs.
If you feel that you may qualify for the social equity program in your state, contact your local state legislator immediately.
The clock is ticking on the applications and the programs are limited.