In late 2021, two large regional not-for-profit organizations, The WorkPlace and CONNCORP, came together to form the Alliance for Cannabis Equity for Connecticut. The purpose of the organization is to support minority entrepreneurs, minority communities, minority workers and the state of Connecticut’s efforts to make the goal of social equity in the new adult-use cannabis industry a reality. Shortly after forming the organization, my firm, BJM Solutions, was hired to draft a report on what needed to be done to realize these lofty goals. Earlier this month, ACECT released the manifesto and the associated website (www.acect.org). This is a good news-bad news commentary.
The good news is that the state of Connecticut through the work of the Social Equity Council and its leadership are making social equity the priority that is stated in the law. Many of the states that legalized adult-use cannabis before Connecticut, like our neighbors in Massachusetts, only paid social equity attention only after the opening of the market when it became apparent that Black, Hispanic and lower-income residents did not have a real stake in the business opportunity legalization created. Connecticut learned from these states that if you do not make social equity a priority in the beginning, it is hard to insert it once the industry gets started. Intentionality is important when it comes to matters of equity. Connecticut deserves credit for this thoughtfulness.