Social Equity Program Overview
Cannabis criminalization and its enforcement has had long-term, adverse impacts to the City of Los Angeles, particularly for low income and minority community members.
The City of Los Angeles is one of the few jurisdictions in the United States attempting to address the impacts of past cannabis policies and their inequities by developing and implementing cannabis policies that seek to center equity in cannabis policy reform.
The Social Equity Program (SEP) is one tool the City of Los Angeles is using to begin to acknowledge and repair the harm caused by the War on Drugs and the disparate enforcement of cannabis prohibition. The goal of the Social Equity Program is, “to promote equitable ownership and employment opportunities in the cannabis industry in order to decrease disparities in life outcomes for marginalized communities, and to address the disproportionate impacts of the War on Drugs in those communities.”
After conducting a Social Equity Analysis to both review the impacts associated with cannabis criminalization and to identify ways to eliminate barriers to entering the legal cannabis market by those individuals and communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs, the City identified that individuals with past cannabis arrests and/or convictions, and those that were low income and lived in high arrest communities or “Disproportionately Impacted Areas” experienced the brunt of societal harms associated with cannabis criminalization.
As such, individuals who are low income, have past cannabis arrests and or convictions and those that live in Disproportionately Impacted Areas may qualify to participate in the City’s Social Equity Program. This Program aims to support people impacted by the War on Drugs and seeks to reduce barriers to entering the legal cannabis industry by providing a number of programs to support business ownership and employment opportunities.
For those interested in owning and operating a licensed cannabis business, priority application processing is available, which seeks to afford eligible SEP applicants an opportunity to be first-to-market, which is critically important given the City’s limited number of available licenses. Furthermore, the SEP provides applicants technical and business assistance to assist in navigating City’s cannabis licensing process. Similarly, SEP applicants may qualify for fee deferrals and have the opportunity to participate in programming designed for new or first-time business owners to help them learn the ‘ins and outs’ of operating a licensed and compliant cannabis business in Los Angeles.
The Social Equity Program will also support workforce development and job placement for those who are interested in employment opportunities rather than business licensing.
As the lead agency for licensing and regulating cannabis in the City of Los Angeles, the Department of Cannabis Regulation (DCR) is responsible for implementing the Social Equity Program and seeks to ensure that disproportionately impacted individuals and communities in the City have fair and meaningful access to the new economic opportunities afforded by legalization and the commercialization of the local cannabis industry.
Please check our website regularly for more information and updates related to the Social Equity Program and its implementation.
View DCR Licensing and Social Equity Workshop Video above