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Minnesota Social Equity Verification: Key Dates Start June 21


The Minnesota cannabis social equity initiative

As Minnesota continues to develop its legal cannabis industry, the Minnesota Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) has taken significant steps to ensure that the process is inclusive and equitable. One of the most notable advancements in this area is the recent update to the social equity application and verification process for cannabis licenses.

This advancement aims to address the harmful societal impacts of the War on Drugs, historical disparities, and ensure that those most affected by cannabis prohibition have the opportunity to participate in the new market. Historically, communities of color and economically disadvantaged groups have been disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition. Recognizing this, Minnesota has committed to creating a more inclusive industry by providing these groups with enhanced opportunities to obtain cannabis licenses.

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Just recently, Minnesota enacted amendments and modifications to their new cannabis law enacting a licensing preapproval and vetted lottery process for qualified social equity applicants. In addition to streamlining the application process, Minnesota has also introduced support services for social equity applicants. These services include business development training, mentorship programs, and access to financial resources. By providing these tools, the state hopes to empower social equity applicants to succeed in the cannabis industry.

Recognizing the importance of awareness and education, the OCM has established a campaign focused on outreach and education regarding the new and ever-evolving regulations surrounding cannabis licensing. These initiatives aim to inform potential applicants about the benefits of social equity verification and guide them through the process. This includes community workshops, online resources, and partnerships with local organizations.

Minnesota social equity verification requirements

Beginning on Monday, June 24, 2024, the OCM will begin the verification process for qualified individuals who want to be pre-approved for cannabis licenses.

Broadly speaking, to qualify for a social equity cannabis license under Minnesota regulations, an applicant must have been convicted of cannabis possession or sale, be a military veteran, or have worked for a farming operation. These specific requirements are explained in more detail below and can be found on the OCM website here with the required documentation for each category:

The applicant was convicted of an offense involving the possession or sale of cannabis prior to May 1, 2023;
The applicant had a parent, guardian, child, spouse, or dependent convicted of an offense involving the possession or sale of cannabis prior to May 1, 2023;
The applicant was a dependent of someone convicted of an offense involving the possession or sale of cannabis prior to May 1, 2023;
The applicant is a military veteran, including service-disabled veterans, or current/former members of the National Guard;
The applicant is a military veteran or National Guard member who lost honorable status due to an offense involving the possession or sale of cannabis;
The applicant has been a resident for the past five years in an area with:

High cannabis enforcement rates as determined by federal or state studies or data;
A poverty rate of 20% or more;
Median family income not exceeding 80% of the statewide median family income;
At least 20% of households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) assistance; or
Populations that experienced a high level of vulnerability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Social Vulnerability Index; or

The applicant has participated in farm operations for at least three years, providing the majority of day-to-day labor and management on a farm with gross sales between $5,000 and $100,000 in the previous year.

Key upcoming dates for Minnesota social equity applicants

On June 21, 2024, the OCM will host a training workshop from 4-6 pm at Sabathani Community Center Auditorium located at 310 E 38th St. Ste. 200, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55409. Participants for the training can register here. For anyone unable to attend in person, the OCM will publish another recording on its website providing an outline of the verification process.

On June 24, 2024, the OCM will open the social equity verification process allowing participants to ensure they meet the social equity requirements. This process will end on July 10, 2024.

On July 24, 2024, those applicants that were verified as social equity applicants will be able to submit an application for cannabis license preapproval. Those license applications will then go through review and a vetting process and will be entered into a lottery to be held later this fall. This preapproval process window will close on August 12, 2024.

Conclusion

The OCM is moving swiftly in order to bring the Minnesota legal cannabis market online. In doing so, they are prioritizing social equity applicants and providing guidance and a preapproval vetting process for those applicants ready to apply. However, this process will require the submission of specific documents and evidence that the applicant meets the criteria set forth above, so it is best if applicants begin reviewing the documentation requirements now. Applicants should then start compiling those documents and getting their applications ready.

Be sure to review the OCM website for additional requirements and resources. They plan to publish additional materials in the coming weeks to assist social equity applicants through the process of obtaining a cannabis license.



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