The Arizona Department of Health Services’ new rules governing eligibility for marijuana dispensary licenses to 26 people from communities hit hardest by the Drug War are almost finalized.
Within Proposition 207 is a rule to establish a “social equity ownership” program that sets aside 26 marijuana dispensary licenses for “people from communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of previous marijuana laws.”
“It was also supposed to remove what lots of people viewed to be a perverse situation where a person selling cannabis with a license could become a billionaire and a person selling cannabis without one could go to prison for decades,” Julie Gunnigle, board member for the Arizona chapter of NORML, told Tucson.com.
But Gunnigle says there’s a flaw in the social equity program: the freedom to transfer the licenses immediately after being awarded.
Gunnigle estimates a newly awarded dispensary license could fetch between $10 million and $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.
“When you create a program like this, where licenses are freely transferable on Day 1 and are transferable to other people other than social equity applicants and doesn’t have any strings attached … you’ve created a system that’s just right for exploitation,” said Gunnigle.
Social equity licenses can be applied for between Dec. 1 through Dec. 14 this year, and will be awarded via random drawing in late December.