The state of California’s social equity program has had mixed results so far and has a “critical need” for state oversight, according to a new report from the California Cannabis Industry Association that analyzed the seven jurisdictions that received grant funds from the state.
“Most of them seem to be struggling to fulfill their mission, which leaves social equity applicants out in the cold,” CCIA executive director Lindsay Robinson said in press release.
The report studied all seven jurisdictions that received funding: Oakland ($10.7 million), Los Angeles ($9.9 million), San Francisco ($8.3 million), Sacramento ($6.8 million), Long Beach ($4.9 million), Humboldt County ($4.8 million) and Mendocino County ($3 million).
Among the findings were that Mendocino County has not yet approved a single equity eligible application and that in Los Angeles, only 28 of the 200 identified social equity applicants had received temporary approval. Meanwhile, in Oakland, 90% of respondents said lack of capital is a major problem.
The report’s main takeaway is that additional statewide oversight is needed because funding from the California Cannabis Equity Act, passed in 2018, has been unsuccessful in vital areas. The report recommends “a comprehensive definition for what constitutes cannabis social equity on the state level” and that the state provide greater financial relief to equity entrepreneurs.
The CCIA’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Equity Committee examined the administration of local cannabis equity programs — from eligibility criteria to loan components — and evaluated program outcomes, contrasting the number of participants in each program. It also incorporates testimonials obtained by committee members from cannabis social equity applicants and operators across California.
The report also contains interviews with social equity cannabis operators and provides comprehensive policy recommendations to inform lawmakers on how to best strengthen programming across the state.
“At its core, social equity is about restoring power to communities unjustly harmed by the War On Drugs,” the report concludes. “Where the State once used cannabis to oppress, it is now in a position to use it to emancipate. Thus, the program needs these reforms to ensure that it continues to rectify the wrongs of yesterday in an industry where nobody knows what tomorrow holds.”
— Brian Beckley