The Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) is set to release its National Cannabis Equity Report and National Cannabis Equity Map Feb. 10 to present data it has collected on social equity programs across the country, and MCBA Executive Director Amber Littlejohn said the data paints a bleak picture of social equity in the industry.

“When you start to look beyond these social equity provisions, you start to see how these merit-based and lottery selection systems have the inequities and the barriers to entry baked into them in more subtle and quiet ways,” she told Cannabis Business Times. “We’re really hoping that this is an opportunity for reflection for the industry as a whole on how they can align their values with their actions.”

The National Cannabis Equity Report and National Cannabis Equity Map, made possible with support from the ArcView Group and in association with Weedmaps and Parallel, provide critical data from social equity programs, as well as other policies that impact equity in state and municipal medical and adult-use markets.

Littlejohn said the project was initially inspired by the questions she has received in the two years since she began leading MCBA.

“One of the most frequent questions that I’ve been getting over the past two years since I’ve been with MCBA—almost three years now—is how many social equity programs are there and what do they do?” she said. “The project itself originally started with us wanting to take a look at all of the social equity programs and understand which programs did what and be able to provide an overview so people could see what was out there and what was being done.”

When the organization began conducting the research, however, it quickly realized that the end result was not going to be the tool that MCBA originally envisioned.

“As we actually started to do the research, we realized that if we were only looking at social equity programs and the provisions that are within social equity programs, this tool wasn’t going to be very useful as a tool for change because, as we all know, none of the programs are working to actually create equity,” Littlejohn said. “There are elements of programs that work, but none of them holistically are working to actually create an equitable and sustainable industry.”

The MCBA team then decided to analyze 40 different data points, looking beyond social equity programs and into factors like license counts, opt-ins, premises requirements, and how the expansion of a medical cannabis program into an adult-use market impacts equity in the industry.

David Abernathy, principal at ArcView, sits on MCBA’s board of directors and connected the two organizations. ArcView then agreed to help organize and present the data, while Weedmaps stepped in to assist with a digital component to the research.

“Along with the report, we have a social equity map, where you will be able to click on a state and then look at the provisions that exist within that state,” Littlejohn said.

MCBA has identified seven initial conclusions from the research that it is asking advocates and lawmakers to consider when reexamining state social equity programs:

The number and efficacy of state social equity programs does not reflect the expressed