Social Equity Assessment Tool for the Cannabis Industry

17 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2019 Last revised: 14 Jun 2019

See all articles by Chris Nani

Chris Nani

Independent; Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Date Written: June 10, 2019


Starting in 1996 with the state of California legalizing the use of medical cannabis, the wave of cannabis legalization has continued at a rapid pace. But with the growth comes increased acknowledgement that the benefits and financial profits of the legal cannabis industry are not flowing to the communities that have been disproportionately harmed by past drug policies as enacted during the War on Drugs. The industry and government officials are increasingly facing calls to create social equity programs to address the past harms. But while the number of these programs is growing, very little has been written about what makes a given program effective. This report aims to fill this gap by introducing the Social Equity Assessment Tool, which localities can use not only to assess the effectiveness of their existing efforts, but also to design a better functioning program for the future. The Social Equity Assessment Tool is a formula that accounts for ten components that are critical for successful social equity programs. The ten components are grouped into two categories – Accessibility (Eligibility, Application Process, Expungements, Preferential Licenses and Shareholder/Ownership Requirements) and Environment (Educational Services, Incubator Program, Zoning Regulations and License Caps, Government Responsiveness and Community Reinvestment). Accessibility encompasses components that affect the ease with which applicants can learn about and access a given program. Environment on the other hand encompasses factors that form a support structure for SEP applicants and their communities.

Suggested Citation

Nani, Christopher, Social Equity Assessment Tool for the Cannabis Industry (June 10, 2019). Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Forthcoming, Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 471, Available at SSRN: or

Christopher Nani (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

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United States

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Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

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