Arizona social equity marijuana license drawing: 26 licenses given out on April 8

The Arizona Department of Health Services held a random, digital drawing Friday to give out licenses to run marijuana dispensaries in Arizona.

The 26 licenses went to people who have been disproportionally affected by marijuana laws. This drawing came after a judge dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the state’s rules for implementing the program. The lawsuit was dismissed in February.

April 8's drawing was streamed on AZDHS' website.

Conditions put in place for applicants

The 26 licensees were selected randomly through a digital drawing from the more than 1,300 applications that were submitted.

To qualify, applicants must have a previous marijuana conviction, or be related to someone that had one. They must live in certain Arizona ZIP codes, and pay the $4,000 application fee.

Applicants faced long odds

In all, each applicant had about a 2% chance at being selected to receive a social equity marijuana business license.

"They’re worth about $10 million to $20 million, the piece of paper alone," said Demitri Downing with the Marijuana ndustry Trade Association. "Each of these dispensaries can do $500,000 to $1 million-plus a month, so you can see the value is there."

Owners of the Mint Dispensary, who partnered up with qualifying customers, were winners of two social equity licenses.

"One of them is a lady that got her life changed because of a pre-roll she got caught with," said Raul Molina with Mint Dispensary. "It's pretty sad that one pre-roll so long ago would put you in a predicament where it’s hard to get grants for college, hard to get the job you want, or search for government jobs and stuff like that."

The 'pre-roll' Molina was referring to is the marijuana industry’s new word for joint. Molina said the winning applicant is a woman in her mid-30's who will now own 51% of the two new cannabis dispensaries that Mint is planning to open in the coming months.

"There's a natural correlation between those who were harmed by the Drug War and this economic opportunity," said Downing. "I think it's wishful thinking that all the wrongs in the past can be righted, but it is a step in the right direction."

The licensees now have 18 months to open their adult-use dispensaries.

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.

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