Oregon Cannabis: Social Equity and “Qualified Applicants”

Who is a “qualified applicant” under Oregon’s new marijuana license reassignment program?

First, some context. House Bill 4016, which introduced the reassignment concept, represents a sea change for Oregon’s licensed marijuana industry. The bill presently awaits signature by the Governor, and no one is betting it won’t become law. Our take on all of Oregon’s new cannabis laws is here and our take on HB 4016 is here.

Those posts briefly discuss Section 4 of HB 4016, which industry watchers have read to address social equity issues in Oregon’s marijuana licensing regime. But does it? Will it? This post takes a closer look at Section 4, which gives the Oregon Liquor & Cannabis Commission (OLCC), the power to adopt rules to assign licenses to qualified applicants under Oregon’s new marijuana license assignment program.

OLCC and social equity

The social equity component of marijuana licensing is important because communities most impacted by the War on Drugs often find themselves unable to enter regulated markets. Access to those markets increasingly depends on access to capital and political connections.

We are aware of at least one individual in Oregon who would qualify as a social equity application under any definition, and who sunk

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