Concerned cannabis advocates filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Health Services after they suspended their medical marijuana program. The state department cited lack of rules and regulations as one reason for shutting down the program, despite stating that it will remain in place pending an official ruling from court.
Arizona has been at the forefront of marijuana legalization. They have even legalized recreational cannabis in some areas. However, they are being sued by cannabis advocates who feel that they are not doing enough to protect their citizens from the dangers of cannabis use. Read more in detail here: az state.
The Greater Phoenix Urban League and Acre 41 Enterprises, LLC have filed a lawsuit against the State of Arizona for failing to implement Proposition 207’s social equity provisions by issuing final regulations that contradict Arizona voters’ wishes.
The lawsuit requests that the State follow the objectives of Proposition 207, the 2020 ballot initiative that legalized recreational marijuana in Arizona, and distribute 26 lucrative marijuana dispensary licenses to people from “communities disproportionately disadvantaged by earlier marijuana regulations.”
By failing to assure that those 26 licenses stay in the hands of persons from disproportionately affected neighborhoods once they are granted by the Arizona Department of Health Services, the proposed rules undercut the intent of Arizona voters (ADHS). Currently, the State’s planned laws do not prevent venture capital firms and huge, primarily white-owned multi-state marijuana enterprises from scooping up all 26 social equity licenses, thereby negating the goal of the voter-approved social equity program.
The Greater Phoenix Urban League is especially concerned that the laws do not assure that the 26 social equity dispensaries would be run in a manner that serves the areas most disadvantaged by the “War on Drugs.” The lawsuit challenges the state’s failure to implement rules establishing a program for the operation and oversight of 26 social equity licenses, as well as its failure to formulate rules ensuring that the social equity dispensaries and related businesses are operated by people from the communities that the law was supposed to help.
Acre 41 is a group of Black female entrepreneurs with extensive experience in the marijuana industry who have been instrumental in securing no-cost or low-cost expungements of prior marijuana convictions for members of disproportionately impacted communities, as well as advising and assisting prospective social equity applicants. Acre 41 leaders have been prominent champions focused on defending and sustaining the 26 social equity licenses for persons from DIAs, notably Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples of color, since the law’s approval in November 2020.
The Greater Phoenix Urban League is a non-profit organization whose aim is to help minority communities via economic development and civic involvement, including those populations disproportionately harmed by the enforcement of previous marijuana laws. It recently altered its mind about supporting the legal cannabis sector, seeing the potential for economic empowerment in areas that have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.
“We have remained on the sidelines in this business for far too long,” a spokeswoman said. While we’re in prison, dispensary owners are earning multi-millionaires. There are about 160 licenses in Arizona that are mostly held by MSOs or white guys. These 26 licenses were created with the intention of being owned and managed by persons from communities that have been disproportionately affected. People’s rights to keep their social equity licenses in the DIAs must be protected. No state government should be able to enact laws that infringe such rights for the evident advantage of multi-state operators, who have shown no interest in supporting persons from DIAs for the previous 11 years.”
Members of the media, industry groups/associations, and other interested parties can contact Plaintiffs’ attorney, Jimmy Cool, at the legal firm Frazer Ryan Goldberg & Arnold, LLP. The complaint, as well as supporting documents, may be seen here.