“We’ve had this ‘social equity’ status … nobody’s actually given any kind of guidance.”
While every social equity story is different, a lot of cannabis entrepreneurs striving to carve out their space in the industry through the state’s programs to lift those from backgrounds disproportionately impacted by the drug wars have experiences with similar contours.
Namely, they lack access to capital and other resources needed to get a business off the ground. And the state is not exactly helping as planned, many would argue.
This week at GBH, reporter Tori Bedford has a piece titled “Stuck in limbo, cannabis entrepreneurs take on a grassroots fight for equity” that speaks to these issues and then some. It’s primarily a profile of Oliver Prudent, a 25-year-old Roxbury-based entrepreneur who makes Cherry Trip hot sauce.
From Tori’s piece:
Prudent says the process of getting an application for a dispensary, securing funding and actually get a business off the ground has been an ongoing struggle.
“For a year now, we’ve had this ‘social equity’ status, and nobody’s actually reached out to see if there’s anything we need or given any kind of guidance,” Prudent said. “Once the status is given to you, you’ve got to fight for everything else afterwards. It feels like one of those trophy plaques they give out for participation.”
The state’s program — the first of its kind in the nation — was established in 2018 to prioritize communities disproportionately criminalized for marijuana in the state’s multibillion dollar legal cannabis industry, offering assistance, expedited license application review, and reduced or waived processing fees. The goal is to fast-track entrepreneurs like Prudent through the review process and carve out a place for local residents to open their own pot shops, promising advantages to people from communities directly impacted by the war on drugs, primarily communities of color.
And there’s audio too. Be sure to check it out.