The authors of the Smart and Safe Arizona Act (aka Adult Use Marijuana) included an opportunity for persons “ from communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of previous marijuana laws” to be able to compete for 26 new licenses to own and operate a “marijuana establishment”.

Today the ADHS released the final criteria that they’ll use to decide who qualifies to apply for these new coveted licenses. In a nutshell, the new rules require that applicants meet 3 of the 4 following criteria in order to apply for one of these potentially lucrative licenses:

  1. Had a household income of less than 400% of the federal (HHS) poverty level in 3 of the last 5 years;

  2. Convicted of and eligible for expungement of eligible for possession of marijuana under A.R.S 36-2862 (less than 2.5 oz of Cannabis);

  3. Have a spouse, surviving spouse, parent, child, sibling or legal guardian who was convicted of a violation of federal or state laws related to marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia;

  4. Have lived in a “community that has been disproportionately affected by the enforcement of Arizona’s previous marijuana laws” in 3 of the last 5 years. (These criteria have yet to be developed and will be added in a subsequent iteration of the rules).

Principal officers & board member applicants cannot have an “A.R.S. § 36-2801 felony offense (with some exceptions – see the PowerPoint).

Applications would be accepted during the first 2 weeks of this December and would be awarded by the end of the year.

In addition to complying with all other requirements for operating a marijuana establishment, social equity licensees must show how they’ll help communities disproportionately affected by Arizona’s marijuana laws through either specific hiring or interning practices or by donating some of their profits to community organizations that focus on social or health inequities in the community.

The Marijuana Industry Trade Association will be holding a webinar this Friday from 3-5pm to explain the latest draft regulations. It’s free and you can join here.


Editorial Note: Many states have attempted to put together social equity license programs as part of adult use marijuana laws. Most attempts have been largely unsuccessful and subject to intense criticism by the very communities that were supposed to be helping. Many of those programs were overly complex and relied on subjective qualifying criteria.

In my opinion, the ADHS rules have a decent chance at being successful where other programs have failed. The selection criteria are thoughtful, relevant, objective and verifiable. Well done in my opinion. It’s important to give credit where credit is due.