Arizona bill targets ‘predatory tactics’ toward marijuana social equity licensees

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Republican state Sen. Sonny Borrelli wants Arizona’s marijuana social equity licensees to regain control of their licenses, alleging that they were preyed upon by large operators and investors.

Borrelli’s Senate Bill 1262 would give the state’s attorney general the authority to investigate allegations of “predatory tactics to seize control of nearly all the lucrative licenses,” according to the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting (AZCIR).

“The way this social equity license thing is supposed to work is that people that apply for it are supposed to maintain that 51% ownership,” Borrelli said at a Feb. 13 Senate hearing, the AZCIR reported.

“Technically, the people that are supposed to have a social equity license don’t get it. The ones that do have the social equity license would not qualify for it in the first place.”

According to the AZCIR, of the 26 social equity licensees:

  • One still wholly owns the license and has opened a store.
  • Two partnered with brands to launch stores and still own equity in their licenses.
  • Twenty-three are owned by investors and corporations such as Jars Cannabis, Mint Cannabis and Story Cannabis Co.

The AZCIR said it has investigated multiple allegations of predatory business agreements in the state’s marijuana social equity program.

If SB 1262 were to become law, Mason and others with similar grievances would have a path to potentially have their ownership restored.

To become law, the bill needs support from three-quarters of the votes in Arizona’s Senate and House.