Strategies for Social Equity Success in the Cannabis Industry

More than 100 million people – about one-third of the U.S. – have now or will soon have legal access to cannabis.

As legal cannabis booms, there is an unprecedented opportunity to ensure people in communities disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition can participate in and benefit from this industry.

The National Association of Cannabis Businesses (NACB) is a national advocate for responsible, inclusive programs aimed at creating these social equity opportunities.

Our recent strategies include:

Sharing a Social Equity Roadmap With State Lawmakers

NACB released Social Equity Guidelines to help lawmakers jumpstart social equity programs.

The Guidelines cover best practices and keys to success from diverse social equity approaches already in place.

Using this roadmap, states can leverage the legal marijuana industry to foster new minority-owned businesses, thousands of jobs, and substantial tax revenue for investment in local communities.

NACB Guidelines cover essential areas:

Qualifications for Social Equity Licenses

Applicants must live in a designated geographical area where there has been a high rate of arrest and incarceration for marijuana-related activity that is no longer illegal.

Applicants and/or those hiring employees who have been arrested or convicted may receive priority for their social equity license application.

Benefits for Applicants

Applicants receive priority consideration in the licensing process, a reduction in application and licensing fees, technical assistance, and low-interest loans.  

Judicial Reform 

NACB strongly advocates for automatic expungement of arrest records and convictions for minor marijuana-related offenses, such as possession of small amounts of cannabis, sale of small amounts to other adults, and offenses related to the operation of a motor vehicle other than impaired driving.

Reinvestment in Disproportionately Impacted Areas (DIAs)

Twenty percent of cannabis tax revenue should be invested in DIA communities to enhance education, legal aid, youth development programs, and violence prevention.

NACB welcomes social equity licensees into the industry with a free year-long membership. View the NACB Social Equity Guidelines at

Gathering the Industry for the 2020 NACB Social Equity Conference 

NACB convened legal, public policy, and advocacy experts and cannabis business owners in a free, day-long conference that elevated public conversation around social equity and examined cannabis social equity trends and business opportunities.

Panelists talked about the importance of diversity and inclusion for cannabis businesses.

Attendees also heard from social equity program directors and licensees about the struggles they face.

The theme of “making your voice count” in the public policy arena was present throughout the conference.  Look for more NACB social equity education events in 2021.  

Raising Voices for Social Equity

NACB’s Call to Action letter makes it simple to raise your voice in support of a social equity program in your state.

Download our template letter, sign, and send it to your state representatives requesting they create or expand social equity legislation in your state.

Visit our website to get the Call-to-Action template letter and a link to find your legislators’ names and contact information.

Momentum is growing for cannabis social equity – will you join us?

Visit to become a member and get involved! 


  • Patricia Miller is an executive editor at Innovative Properties Worldwide. She explores science, technology, and policy shaping the legal cannabis sector. Follow her work when you subscribe to Cannabis & Tech Today at or visit her website

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