Arizona awards highly sought social equity pot licenses
May 11

PHOENIX (AP) _ Arizona's public health agency has awarded more than two dozen social equity dispensary licenses under the state's voter-approved law legalizing recreational marijuana.

Don Herrington, Arizona Department of Health Services interim director, announced in a blog post Tuesday that all 26 licenses were issued in a drawing that was live-streamed.

More than 1,500 applications had been submitted.

The licenses are potentially worth millions of dollars. They were established under a 2020 ballot measure's provision that ensured there would be licenses for ``people from communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of previous marijuana laws.''

The process was fraught with legal challenges.

The Greater Phoenix Urban League and a corporation filed a lawsuit challenging the rules the state used to give out the licenses. They argued the rules lack provisions like a prohibition against license transfers and a requirement that licensees' expenditures and profits remain in their communities.

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge rejected the lawsuit in February, saying the rules satisfy the broad mandates set by the law.

Herrington applauded Arizona's program as a model for other states. He said the legal challenges ultimately didn't delay the assignment of the licenses.

By The Associated Press, Copyright 2019