The ‘poster child’ for social equity marijuana licenses looks to succeed, even against tall odds

(Disclosure: Rose Law Group represents Life Changers Investments.)

By David Abbott | AZ Mirror

Alicia Deals is the poster child for Arizona’s social equity program, and she is willing to pass up an immediate payday — risking no payday at all — in order to try to forge her own path in a complex and heavily regulated industry.

Deals is one of 26 winners of marijuana establishment licenses the Arizona Department of Health Services distributed in April through a much-anticipated lottery, and she is intent on becoming a successful cannabis entrepreneur. With her newly acquired license, she hopes to bring the benefits of the cannabis industry to one of the program’s targeted areas.

“This is a divine opportunity and we have major things to do,” Deals told the Arizona Mirror. “I’m here to make changes in the marijuana industry; community-based changes. It’s just not right that so many people have suffered.”

Given she does not have the economic heft of a large, established multi-state operator (MSO) or the backing of a wealthy benefactor, opening a marijuana establishment will be an uphill climb. It is a challenge she is more than willing to accept.

Arizona’s social equity ownership program is intended to right the wrongs caused by marijuana prohibition during the decades-long war on drugs.

It was established by the passage of Proposition 207, which legalized adult-use recreational cannabis in 2020. The goal is to bring the economic benefits of legal cannabis to the communities that have been disproportionately harmed by nearly a century of punitive marijuana laws.

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“Through my involvement with social equity, I’ve been learning and reading about different areas and communities, and if you look at Phoenix, up until the 1970s, minority communities were confined to South Phoenix due to redlining,” he said. “It’s really the poster child for disproportionately impacted areas that the social equity program is supposed to benefit, so it’s really serendipitous that we have kind of a poster child of the program and a poster child community.”

Jonathan Udell represents Deals through his position at Rose Law Group and was not able to talk about specifics of her circumstances.

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