New “Equity Programs” Look to Lower the Barriers to Cannabis Licensing

People like former inmate Shawn Richard are looking to benefit from new programs designed to level the weed playing field.

Supply chain logistics, point-of-sale systems, retail advocates who can educate consumers on the benefits of cannabis. These are just a few of the hurdles new business owners face when trying to open up their own establishment. While those who are financially capable of making the leap into ownership can often overcome these obstacles, those with zero experience (and lacking financial resources) are starting completely behind the 8 ball. So how does the system keep the scales balanced and create opportunity for all? San Francisco’s new “equity programs” are showing lots of promise. Designed to “lower barriers to cannabis licensing for those hardest hit by the War on Drugs,” the program seeks to help people like Shawn Richard, a former inmate at Folsom State Prison and the subject of this article.

But of course larger companies are looking to take advantage of the program, promising budding entrepreneurs who are eligible small percentages of ownership if the big dogs can essentially piggyback off their benefit. San Francisco’s equity program is still in its infancy, and learnings (and loopholes) are revealing themselves, but the story is important to watch, as other cities may start adopting similar programs to help people like Richard get a piece of the pie. 

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