Everything You Need to Know About Los Angeles' Social Equity Program


LA’s Social Equity Program

The explosion of cannabis and cbd marketplaces with increasing legalization led to the need for enactment and implementation of laws to accommodate the changes. The enforcement of cannabis laws and its criminalization has harshly impacted people from minority communities and low-income earners for a long time. 

To address these issues around cannabis, LA is developing and enforcing new cannabis policies under LA’s Social Equity Program. This program aims to create a fair and equitable cannabis landscape to provide opportunities to individuals from communities disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs.

Read on to discover more crucial information about how this program works and who qualifies for social equity.

What Is LA’s Social Equity Program?

The main goal of this program is to reduce inequalities facing marginalized communities and promoting equitable opportunities in the cannabis industry. It will create better life outcomes for victims of the war on drugs and allow the city government to offer assistance through funding, licensing and physical space. Moreover, it gives the opportunity for those affected to participate in a booming cannabis market – allowing them to own retail premises to sell cannabis products like: flowers, edibles, concentrates, cbd pills, etc. However, there are strict requirements that cannabis business owners and distributors should meet to qualify.

Benefits of LA’s Social Equity Program

The launch of the Social Equity Program comes with many benefits to those who qualify. The City is set to issue about 300 cannabis retail licenses to social equity beneficiaries. Here is what you may enjoy if you are eligible:

  • Priority processing
  • Verification of your qualification without site verification
  • Training through an incubator
  • Help with your licensing, and business compliance 
  • Fee waiver
  • Access to funds

What Are the Qualifications for LA’s Social Equity Program?

Based on the factors influencing the groups of people most affected by the previous cannabis laws, the city of LA has come up with three requirements. 

Here are the requirements that can qualify you for the social equity program. 

Tier 1: Low income and prior California Arrest or Conviction

According to LAMC Sec. 104.20, any income that is 80% or below the City’s Area Median Income qualifies as low income. For the years 2017 and 2018, that is approximately less than $45,644 in gross or total income. To prove low income status, you need to provide a federal tax return from 2017 or 2018 reflecting low income or proof of eligibility for General Assistance, Food Stamps, Medical/CALWORKs or Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability (SSI/SSDI). 

  • The second part of this requirement means that those who qualify need to have involved themselves in the cultivation, manufacture, use, possession, and sale of marijuana, leading to arrest or convection before November 8, 2016.


Low Income and cumulatively lived for at least 5 years in a Disproportionately Impacted Area

These zip codes are for areas that qualify: 90003, 90062, 90057, 90037, 90001, 90061, 90008, 90059, 90011, 90016, 90002, 90021, 90014, 90044, 90021, 90037, 90043, 90058, 90033, 90027.

Tier 2To qualify for the program, you need to own more than a 33.33% equity share of the business that will benefit if you get the license. And the proof of:

  • Low Income with not less than 5 years of cumulative residence in qualifying area: 


  • Not less than 10 years of cumulative residency in a qualifying area.

Tier 3:

A Tier 3 candidate has to sign a Social Equity Agreement with the City of LA to provide property, capital, licensing and compliance support for a duration of 3 years to individuals who qualify for Tier 1, and business, licensing and compliance support to for a period of 3 years to individuals who meet Tier 2 requirements.

Tier 3 applicants have to give Tier 1 candidates access to the property without rent charges and with prorated utilities for not less than 3 years in a plan in line with LAMC Sec. 104.20(e)


The new era of legal cannabis in California comes with lots of benefits. The new policies will open amazing business opportunities and create employment for many people. However, many cannabis users are still yet to enjoy the benefits resulting from cannabis legalization equally. This includes people from marginalized and low-income communities still fighting the reprecussions of the War on Drugs. 

To bridge the gap and empower equal opportunities, the city of LA created the Social Equity Program. This program offers support and assistance to people affected by the harsh cannabis laws previously.


The materials made available in this blog were are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your cannabis attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.

This article was written as a guest post/collaboration with Cannabis2Biz.

Written by antonio

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