Minnesota promises equity in cannabis businesses licensing, but is it enough to repair past harms?

Cannabis products in glass case
Recreational marijuana at the NativeCare dispensary at the Red Lake Nation on Aug. 1.
Mathew Holding Eagle III | MPR News 2023

Thursday, Feb. 1, marks six months since cannabis became legal in Minnesota, but the state is still a year or more away from having marijuana dispensaries statewide. Right now, they only exist on tribal land.

The Office of Cannabis Management eventually wants 381 licensed dispensaries and has committed to giving at least 51 percent of those licenses to social equity applicants — people who’ve been disproportionately harmed by past marijuana laws. Other states like Illinois have similar provisions codified in their respective statute.

Todd Harris, co-founder of Minneapolis-based hemp beverage company Plift, is advocating for Black ownership in marijuana businesses, but is concerned that licensing doesn’t solve the problem of having sufficient equity to start a company.

Listen to his conversation with MPR News Host Cathy Wurzer on Morning Edition by clicking on the player above.

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