Minorities Given Preferential Access to Cannabis Business Licenses Under D.C. Law

The Council of the District of Columbia has passed a law which gives minority-owned companies preferential access to cannabis business licenses.

The emergency legislation modifies a section of the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1999 to provide that that

“a certified business enterprise (as defined in the Small, Local, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise and Development and Assistance Act of 2005) shall be awarded a preference equal to 20 points or 7.5 percent of the available points, whichever is more.”

The law was sponsored by council member Robert White who said the law is necessary in order to help minorities and small business entrepreneurs overcome economic disadvantages and allow them to participate in the high-growth industry.

Since the law is classified as emergency legislation it can only remain in effect for up to 90 days, however a permanent bill has been introduced and it is expected that the effect of the law will be fully implemented prior to the expiration of the emergency legislation.

The passing of the law comes at a time when D.C. is preparing to issue business permits to open medical cannabis dispensaries in the neighbourhoods east of the Anacostia River, which have an overwhelmingly African-American population.

With many calling for aboriginal participation in the cannabis industry in Canada, one can wonder whether some sort of similar legislation may be enacted at the federal or provincial level in the future.

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