Equity Program

San Francisco is committed to help communities hit hardest by the War on Drugs. The City's Office of Cannabis aims to build a diverse and inclusive cannabis industry with the Equity Program.

Only applicants and incubators in the Equity Program can apply for new permits in 2018.

Individuals are eligible through financial, regional, and judicial criteria. Applicants who are not eligible as individuals may apply as an incubator. Incubators agree to use local and inclusive business practices to support the community.

For individuals

To be eligible for the Equity Program as an Equity Applicant, you must:

  • apply as a person, not a company
  • have assets, excluding non-liquid assets and retirement accounts, below asset limits established by the Director
  • be any of the following:

    • the business owner
    • own at least 40% and are the CEO
    • own at least 51% of the business
    • on the board of a not-for-profit cannabis business where most of the Board also qualify as equity applicants
    • an individual with a membership interest in a cannabis business formed as a cooperative

You must also meet at least 3 of the 6 equity conditions:

  • your household income equal to or less than

    • $64,550 for one person
    • $73,800 for two people
    • $83,000 for three people
    • $92,250 for four people
    • $99,600 for five people
    • $107,000 for six people
    • $114,350 for seven people
    • $121,750 for eight people
    • $129,100 for nine people
  • have been arrested from 1971 to 2016 for the sale, possession, use, manufacture or cultivation of cannabis
  • had a parent, sibling or child arrested from 1971 to 2016 for the sale, possession, use, manufacture or cultivation of cannabis
  • lost housing in San Francisco after 1995 through eviction, foreclosure or subsidy cancellation
  • attended school in the San Francisco Unified School District for a total of 5 years from 1971 to 2016
  • for a total of 5 years from 1971 to 2016, have lived in San Francisco census tracts where at least 17% of the households had incomes at or below the federal poverty level

For incubators

If you do not qualify as an Equity Applicant, you can apply as an Equity Incubator. You must submit a Cannabis Equity Incubator Agreement with your Cannabis Business Permit. The Equity Incubator Agreement states that you will, within 3 years of opening your business:

  • have local residents perform 30% of all work hours
  • have half of your employees meet at least 3 of the 6 equity conditions above
  • provide a community investment plan with businesses and residents within 500 feet

Incubators will also need to do one of the following:

  • submit a plan to the Office of Cannabis for providing guidance to Equity Applicants running a new cannabis business (like business plans, operations consulting and technical assistance)
  • provide an Equity Applicant rent-free commercial space to run their new cannabis business, which must:

    • be equal or exceed 800 square feet, or be at least 10% of the Incubator's space
    • include use of the Incubator's security services

Equity Program Report

The case for equity is clear. The War on Drugs has had consequential impacts on communities throughout the United States, including in San Francisco. The City’s challenge today is also our opportunity. As we move towards regulating the cannabis industry, we are taking this opportunity to harness its potential to begin to restore historic inequities.

San Francisco is developing and implementing a program that makes sense for the residents of our City - a program that balances our priorities and reflects our values.

Equity Program Report

Equity plan

All Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (MCDs) in San Francisco must have plans to show what they will do to:

  • help and support Equity Operators
  • hire people hit hardest by the criminalization of cannabis
  • otherwise further the City’s equity goals

Cannabis businesses in San Francisco will update their plans in the first half of 2018. The updates will show progress on their equity goals.

To comment on these plans, email officeofcannabis@sfgov.org