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US (CA): Report analyzing health and success of social equity programs released

The California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA)'s Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Equity Committee (DISE) released an accountability report to examine the health and success of cannabis social equity programs that have received funding from the State. Initial findings reveal mixed results and suggest a critical need for more state oversight going forward.

"It is vitally important to check on the health and success of local equity programs. Most of them seem to be struggling to fulfill their mission, which leaves social equity applicants out in the cold," said CCIA Executive Director Lindsay Robinson. "Our Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Equity Committee dedicated several months of research to this project. We hope this report will aid participating local jurisdictions by identifying areas for improvement so that they can address them and strengthen their programs."

In the report, the DISE Committee examines local jurisdictions' administration of their cannabis equity programs – from eligibility criteria to loan components. It evaluates program outcomes, contrasting the number of participants in each program. It also incorporates testimonials obtained by DISE Committee members from cannabis social equity applicants and operators across California. Lastly, the report provides comprehensive policy recommendations to inform lawmakers on how to strengthen programming across the state.

The report's conclusion maintains that greater oversight and accountability are needed at the state and local level. Local programs differ greatly in structure, eligibility, and funding implementation. This variation – and the absence of a statewide database measuring local program success –makes progress hard to track and, in some instances, funds distributed under the Act have not produced successful outcomes in vital areas.

Using data analysis and information gathered from interviews, the report provides a series of policy recommendations for state lawmakers aimed at ensuring California's social equity programming works as it was intended. The recommendations include that the state provide waivers and deferrals for state licensing and application fees as well as tax relief for the many equity operators who are already paying tens of thousands of dollars in fees, and that the California Legislature adopt a specific statutory definition for what constitutes a social equity applicant and licensee. 

You can read the full report here.

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