Building Social Equity in Minnesota Through Cannabis

Minnesota’s Cannabis Market Is Primed for Social Equity

At the start of this month, legalized cannabis took effect in Minnesota. It’s a great time to celebrate and we are thrilled about the adult-use market kicking into high gear in 2024. However, though cannabis is legalized, you won’t be seeing a dispensary on your nearby street corner anytime soon (though you may start seeing some low-potency hemp edibles in your local breweries). We anticipate roughly a year and a half until the newly formed Office of Cannabis Management (“OCM”), formally established on July 1, will be able to build out and implement its own infrastructure to begin issuing licenses. 

New cannabis licenses will be issued across 15 different license types and while we don’t know exactly what’s on the application, it looks like Minnesota will be following in many other states’ footsteps by giving priority to social equity applicants.


Do you Qualify for Social Equity Status?

A Division of Social Equity within the OCM will promote the development, stability, and safety of cannabis and individuals within communities which have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition. They will also be the ones who oversee the social equity applicants.

Qualifying applicants include:

  1. People who were convicted of possessing or selling marijuana
  2. Family members of someone who was convicted of a marijuana offense,
  3. Veterans or active military who lost honorable status due to a marijuana offense,
  4. Residents of neighborhoods that “experienced a disproportionately large amount of cannabis enforcement,”
  5. Farmers from underrepresented communities. 

While we do not know the full breakdown of scoring for the application, we do know that social equity applicants will be awarded more points than non-social equity applicants and that social equity applicants may only transfer the ownership of their license to other social equity applicants.

Minnesota Social Equity License Provisions

It is important to highlight the social equity provisions of the enacted legislative bill along with the licenses and efforts which will take place thanks to the Division, since we have seen how cannabis prohibition has impacted millions of people nationwide and in Minnesota. First, these licenses come with access to special grants which will be created by the state legislature. Additionally, the law outlines critical expungement programs for those with low-level cannabis convictions. The newly created Cannabis Expungement Board will oversee this process. 

As was the case with many states across the country, Black Minnesotans risked far greater rates of prosecution for cannabis related offenses than their White counterparts. For example, there were 6,055 cannabis related offenses recorded in 2021 with 90% of them being for simple cannabis possession. Of those, Black residents were nearly 8 times more likely to be arrested. A program in 2018 also revealed that Minneapolis police, after launching a series of stings targeting low-level cannabis sales in the city, saw that 46 of the 47 arrests were Black suspects. 

We’re heartened with the early signs of legalization in Minnesota that the state is taking social equity seriously and is working on building better policies, programs, and benefits for individuals who have for far too long either been excluded from the industry or faced disproportionate punishment because of it. These are just the first steps that Minnesota is taking for a wide group of individuals and communities, and we’re optimistic about what they will be doing next.


Learn How You Might Qualify for Social Equity with Canna Advisors

If you know you’re social equity applicant, think you may qualify as one, or just want to have some answers questions about cannabis opportunities in Minnesota, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Canna Advisors! We’re more than happy to arrange financial modeling, business planning, license pursuits, and hourly consulting to help you with your cannabis ambitions in Minnesota.

As the Minnesota cannabis market heats up and social equity becomes a major component, now is the time to get moving on your strategy for winning a license. Contact our Minnesota cannabis consultants today.

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