Arizona Distributes 26 Social Equity Marijuana Licenses

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On Friday, more than 1,300 contestants waited anxiously to see if they were the lucky ones to receive a golden ticket to Arizona’s billion-dollar pot industry.

PHOENIX – The wait is over for over 1,300 people hoping for one of 26 social equity marijuana licenses.

The Arizona Department of Health Services randomly selected via SmartPlay International software which is used by state lottery systems to select applicants who meet requirements set by the state to “promote ownership and operation of marijuana establishments and marijuana testing facilities by individuals from communities disproportionately affected by the enforcement of previous marijuana laws.”

This followed Proposition 207, which passed in November 2020 and legalized the use of marijuana by adults.

Henry & Horne LLP served as operators and auditors to provide an additional layer of security during the lottery.

“It would create generational wealth for me and my family. It would give me more opportunities to start other businesses,” said Arianna Munoz, one of the many contestants. “I’ve always wanted to be a brand owner and dispensary owner and now was the perfect time.”

In February, a judge dismissed a lawsuit that questioned the way the state ran the lottery.

“The fight for social equity is never over,” said Demitri Downing, co-founder of the Arizona Cannabis trade association.

Demitri Downing helps candidates navigate the corporate-dominated system industry and says the lottery is a step in the right direction. But advocates worry Proposition 207 has failed to hold recipients of social equity licenses accountable.

State rules required that 51% of the application be vetted by qualified social equity applicants and recipients could sell their license to another company or investor.

Beneficiaries have 18 months to open their adult clinics.

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