Report: All but one of Arizona’s social equity licenses controlled by big corporations
Source: Google Maps

Marijuana chain Story Cannabis runs six of the social equity dispensaries.

The overwhelming majority of social equity marijuana business licenses in Arizona – 25 out of 26 – are now controlled by large companies instead of small startups, according to an analysis by AZCentral.com.

Most of those lottery winners sold their permits, some for as little as $35,000, Celeste Rodriguez of Acre 41 told the news outlet, while other licenses had been tied up in or lost through litigation.

Rodriguez and Acre 41 previously sued the state over its social equity program rules and predicted exactly the outcome that’s been realized, even though the intent of the program was the exact opposite: to give entrepreneurs harmed by the war on drugs a chance to get in on the ground floor of the marijuana trade, not to make already-big companies bigger.

Rodriguez is now lobbying state lawmakers in an attempt to “rectify” the program, AZCentral.com reported.

The news follows an earlier report last fall that, as of October, only four of the 26 original social equity winners had retained a stake in their business permits.

Marijuana chain Story Cannabis runs six of the social equity dispensaries, while others are run by big companies such as:

  • Copperstate Farms/Sol Flower
  • JARS
  • Mint Dispensary
  • Nirvana

Story Cannabis has been fighting the winners of one license in court, after the winners signed a financial agreement with Story. When the two licensees refused to sell their majority ownership stake, Story Cannabis forced the pair first into arbitration – which it won – and now the two sides are fighting in court, which could leave the social equity winners $1.5 million in debt if they lose.

Mint’s chief operating officer, Raul Molina, even admitted to AZCentral.com that “the system is not how it should have been,” regarding the outcome of the social equity lottery.

Molina defended Mint’s purchase of social equity licenses, however, and said the company paid “life-changing” sums to the original permit holders.

John Schroyer

John Schroyer has been a reporter since 2006, initially with a focus on politics, and covered the 2012 Colorado campaign to legalize marijuana. He has written about the cannabis industry specifically since 2014, after being on hand for the first-ever legal cannabis sales on New Year’s Day that year in Denver. John has covered subsequent marijuana market launches in California and Illinois, has written about every aspect of the marijuana trade, and was part of the team that built the cannabis industry’s first-ever trade show, MJBizCon. He joined Green Market Report in 2022.


2 comments

  • mexico mike

    January 22, 2024 at 9:04 pm

    Money talks and all else really doesn’t matter.

    Reply

  • amy donohue

    January 23, 2024 at 9:54 am

    I am in Phoenix and have been involved in the industry here since 2012. The social equity program in Arizona is a predatory joke. We need better people making laws here.

    Reply

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