Social Equity

Allow self-provision

Adults would be allowed to grow their own cannabis in their own home or residence. This includes indoors and outdoors, and both owner-occupied and rental properties. The Government has signalled cultivation would be treated similarly to home-brewed alcohol, rather than setting arbitrary limits.

Self-provision is an important counterpoint to the licit and illicit markets, providing competition in both quality and affordability. Seeds would be sold at licensed premises, although importing seeds without a licence would remain prohibited. Home growing must be done away from public view, and the crop must be stored where minors cannot access it. Adults should also be allowed to produce collectively at a shared premise.

Create opportunity and support local socially minded organisations

Licences should be based on a scoring process. There could also be restrictions on foreign-controlled entities, and some licences set aside for small or regional producers, or the point system used to achieve this. Upfront costs would be reduced by not requiring a premise before applying; a provisional approval would give applicants 180 days to then find suitable premises, reducing start-up costs and opening access to smaller producers.

Craft or artisanal producers would be defined as a flowering area of less than 200 m2 producing up to 600kg/year and would have the same security requirements as retail stores and laboratories. Larger producers would have additional security requirements, reflecting their higher risks and intended outputs. QA/QC requirements would be the same for both, ensuring consumer safety.

Right the wrongs

Those most affected by the previous approach should not be locked out. Cannabis convictions will be automatically expunged and would not be a barrier to entering the legal market.

A new status will be established of “Social Equity Applicant”, which would be defined as: applicant with at least 51% of the ownership and control, and 51% of the employees are individuals who have lived for more than 5 of the last 10 years in a disproportionately impacted area, and they or any member of their immediate family have been arrested or convicted for any offence eligible for expungement. A disproportionately impacted area is designated and will be one that is economically depressed and has high rates of arrest, conviction and imprisonment for cannabis.

Social Equity Applicants would have:

  • A proportion of licences set aside for them
  • Access to low interest loans to help defray business startup costs
  • Licence fee waivers of up to 50%
  • Up to 25 points towards their licence score, with some additional “bonus points” for voluntary extras such as environmental programmes or community outreach.

Direct benefits to where they are needed

Imposing a levy rather than a general tax allows revenues from legal cannabis to be targeted, perhaps on this suggested basis:

  • 25% to increase drug education, treatment and harm reduction services
  • 25% to support social equity measures
  • 25% to fund local grants
  • 8% to law enforcement, training and equipment
  • 5% to research cannabis and the law
  • 2% to fund public awareness
  • 10% left for general spending or debt repayment

Grants should be administered by the Lotteries Grants Board, avoiding the politically charged nature of local gambling and liquor trusts. The Lotteries Grants Board, which could be renamed to something like the Community Development Fund, would issue clear and objective criteria for assessing grant applications – not just lobbying or a popularity contest – and would also direct grants back to the communities in the proportion the levies came from. This could be defined by region or local body.

Recipients would not be required to state the funding source, and levy payers would not be allowed to associate their products with their grants or the recipients.

Local bodies could also opt to impose an additional Regional Cannabis Levy of up to 5% of the gross retail revenues of any Social Retail and/or Social Clubs operating within their boundaries (including deliveries).