Social equity is a tricky beast to name -- it’s all new and a little crazy in an exciting way. Those familiar with the state initiatives know that they’re far from perfect, but most of what you hear about it focuses on the process, not the people.
Since the launch of our SEED program in 2018, I’ve worked with ONE Cannabis to establish a social equity model that empowers applicants with the experience and capital necessary to realistically build out a profitable dispensary. I spend more time with these applicants than with my coworkers and lean on my background as both a rabbi and cannabis entrepreneur to bridge the cultural gap between the worlds of social equity and corporate partnership.
In an effort to find the best social equity applicants to partner with, we went through an exhaustive 100-person vetting measure in Los Angeles that consisted of multiple interviews, rigorous assessments and a few beers. Our goal was to create a flagship process others can utilize. This article is not about that process. Rather, it’s about a series of observations that are hard to miss in the social equity world -- but for some reason, aren’t being highlighted.
Many shapes, one direction
When we started the SEED program, we didn’t know anyone involved in that world personally. As we sought out community leaders, social equity advocates and applicants alike, it became clear that most media coverage glossed over key pieces of what motivates these people to believe that social equity -- and cannabis-- could be a pathway to a successful, independent ownership of a business.