The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) released a list of zip codes across the state where local applicants for 26 new social equity recreational marijuana dispensary licenses must have lived in recent years to qualify.
Arizona’s Prop 207 legalized recreational marijuana for adult use and also opened the door for 26 people “from communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of previous marijuana laws” to qualify for a social equity dispensary license.
The 87 zip codes identified by the ADHS as a residency requirement to apply for those licenses are scattered across the state, with many of them being on or near Native American reservations, and only a few outside of Phoenix and Tucson.
The social equity licensing program is a very controversial topic in Arizona’s marijuana industry. For instance, an Arizona dispensary license can fetch between $10-$20 million on the open market, which means social equity license awardees will have millions of reasons to immediately sell their license to the highest bidder.
“I’m sure they’re [ADHS] going to get sued,” Will Humble, a former ADHS director who implemented the state’s medical marijuana program, told AZCentral. “One of the principles of good governance is to explain the conclusions that you’ve come to. This is the first time I’m aware of the state of Arizona has basically admitted there are some communities that have been unfairly targeted by law enforcement and prosecutors. They had to be forced by voters to admit it.”
Under the geographic residency requirement, applicants for social equity licenses must have lived in one of the 87 zip codes at least three of the past five years. Other criteria include household income and past marijuana convictions of the applicant or a family member.