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Sat, May 28

Briefs | Arizona awards social equity pot licenses

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. Jars of marijuana are pictured on a dispensary shelf in this file photo. (Miner file photo)

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. Jars of marijuana are pictured on a dispensary shelf in this file photo. (Miner file photo)

PHOENIX – 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 judge rejected the lawsuit in February, saying the rules satisfy 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.

Gov. urges social media firms to fight smuggling

PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is calling on social media firms to better police platforms for people recruiting drivers to smuggle immigrants across the border.

Ducey made the request Wednesday in a letter to the chief executives of the companies that run Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

He says smugglers are using the platforms to glamorize human trafficking in order to recruit young people who are paid to sneak migrants across the border. Drug and human smuggling cartels often recruit people with clean records who are less likely to rouse the suspicions of border agents.

Social media companies have mechanisms for users to report criminal activity and other violations of their policies. Ducey says better screening would prevent the exploitation of youth.

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