Los Angeles opened the application process for social equity applicants in September 2019. To date only three of the 200 eligible applicants have received approval from the Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation; Artist Tree, Sunset Business Solutions, and CannaTrust Group. Artist Tree in Koreatown is the only one that has opened.
The Social Equity Program is a three-tiered program that groups applicants meeting certain criteria and processes their application in a priority schedule created by the City.
Tier 1 Social Equity Individual Applicants must be low-income, and have a prior California Cannabis Arrest or Conviction, or have a minimum cumulative residency of five years in a Disproportionately Impacted Area.
A Tier 2 Social Equity Individual Applicant must be Low Income and have a minimum cumulative residency of five years in a Disproportionately Impacted Area or the individual does not meet the Low Income requirement but has a minimum cumulative residency of ten years in a Disproportionately Impacted Area.
A Tier 3 Applicant is a person who applied for a non-retail cannabis license under another Section of the Code but does not meet the requirements of a Tier 1 or Tier 2 Social Equity Individual Applicant.
The local and state application process is complicated and requires the expertise of attorneys, cannabis consultants, security experts, architects, and other professionals.
Filing fees are around $600 and application fees can cost between $7,000 and $9,000.
The Department of Cannabis Regulation reports that only 46 applicants have uploaded the minimum number of documents required to apply for a cannabis license.
In early 2021, the Los Angeles County Bar Association partnered with the city to provide pro-bono legal assistance to the 200 retail applicants.
The Department of Cannabis Regulation established the Social Equity Entrepreneur Development (SEED) Grant Program. SEED will provide $6 million in financial assistance to the 200 social equity applicants. The first grants will be dispersed in a few months.
The Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation is now hosting webinars on their website. The webinars provide updates and help social equity stakeholders navigate the licensing process.