City of Los Angeles: Social Equity Individual Applicant Eligibility Verification Window Open 

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If you or someone you know is interested in applying for a local cannabis business license in the City of Los Angeles in the future, this post is for you. Future rounds of licensing, including the Phase 3 Round 2 retail lottery, will only be open to social equity applicants that have been verified under the City’s updated eligibility criteria. Therefore, even if you or a member of your company was verified as a social equity applicant under the 2019 eligibility criteria, re-verification is necessary, and you have a limited amount of time to obtain it. Specifically, the window to submit a new Social Equity Individual Applicant (“SEIA”) Eligibility Verification Request opened on May 26, 2022 and closes on July 25, 2022 at 4:00 P.M. Pacific Time (PT), so get your request form and all required accompanying materials submitted as soon as possible. 

As noted above, the eligibility criteria for verification as a SEIA have changed since the criteria were implemented in 2019. The updated criteria are detailed in Section 104.20(b)(1) of the City’s Municipal Code and are discussed, generally, below. 

Updated Cannabis Social Equity Individual Applicant (SEIA) Eligibility Criteria

In order to qualify as a SEIA under the updated criteria, you must satisfy two of the three following criteria. 

SEIA Eligibility Criteria #1

You have a cannabis arrest or conviction in the State of California for any crime relating to the sale, possession, use, manufacture, or cultivation of cannabis that occurred prior to November 8, 2016. For purposes of this criterion, an arrest, prosecution, or conviction for a violation of the Proposition D is not considered a California cannabis arrest for purposes of this analysis. 

SEIA Eligibility Criteria #2

You have a cumulative ten (10) years of residency is a “Disproportionately Impacted Area.”

SEIA Eligibility Criteria #3

You qualify as “Low Income” in the 2020 or 2021 calendar year. For purposes of this criterion, “Low-Income” means both of the following definitions are met: (1) the Social Equity Individual Applicant meets the low-income thresholds established in the annual U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) income limits based upon the Area Median Income (AMI) for Los Angeles County based on household size; AND (2) the Social Equity Individual Applicant does not have Assets in excess of four times the AMI amount for their household.

Documentation Required for Cannabis Social Equity Applicants in Los Angeles

In order to be verified as a SEIA, you need to submit documentation proving that you meet at least two of the three criteria listed above. In the past, determining what documentation could be submitted as proof of qualification as a SEIA was extremely difficult. To help ensure there is no confusion this time around, the Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation (“DCR”) has released FAQs, is holding webinars via Zoom, and has continuously updated its website to reflect the most up to date information about the SEIA eligibility verification request process. For detailed information regarding the documentation required to prove SEIA eligibility, visit the DCR’s website. For a general list acceptable documentation, see below. 

Documentation needed for Eligibility Criteria #1 – California Cannabis Arrest or Conviction

  1. A physical copy of the ticket or citation 
  2. A court docket referencing your arrest or conviction
  3. A letter of expungement from the jurisdiction that expunged the cannabis conviction or arrest

If you are having trouble locating the appropriate records, call the criminal court clerk’s office for the jurisdiction in which you were charged and/or convicted. The clerk’s office should be able to locate your case records using your name and date of birth, if charges were in fact filed against you. If you were arrested, but never charged with a crime, you may need to contact the arresting agency to try and obtain your arrest records. 

Documentation needed for Eligibility Criteria #2 – Residency in a “Disproportionately Impacted Area”

  1. Tax or financial records 
  2. Property Deeds
  3. Mortgage or Lease Documents
  4. Government Housing or Assistance Records
  5. Utility Bills
  6. Education Records
  7. Employment Records
  8. Vehicle Registrations
  9. Identification Cards

Reminder: the documentation submitted, must show that you lived in a “Disproportionately Impacted Area”, as defined by police reporting districts, for at least ten (10) cumulative years. You must submit at least one dated document for each of the ten (10) years you lived in a “Disproportionately Impacted Area”. 

Documentation needed for Eligibility Criteria #3 – Low Income

  1. Federal tax return for 2020 or 2021; or
  2. A letter from the IRS stating you were NOT required to file taxes; and
  3. DCR’s Asset Attestation Form

Given that some of the required documentation may be difficult to locate or require the assistance of government agencies/offices to obtain, you should start compiling all required documentation as soon as possible to ensure you do not miss the DCR’s submission window. 

Department of Cannabis Regulation (DCR) Account & ACA Reference ID Requirement

In a press release issued on May 26, 2022, the DCR reminded those interested in submitting a SEIA Eligibility Verification Request that all “[r]equesters must have an ACA Reference ID in order to proceed through the online SEIA Eligibility Verification Request Form. ACA Reference ID numbers are assigned when an account is registered on the DCR Licensing Portal and can be found under the “Account Management” tab.” Thus, before you can submit a SEIA Eligibility Verification Request, you must create an account on the DCR’s main licensing portal. 

Resources for Cannabis Social Equity Applicants in Los Angeles

If you have questions or concerns about the SEIA Eligibility Verification Request process, the DCR has a number of resources available to you on its website. Perhaps the most helpful resource is the archived recording of the May 24, 2022 Social Equity Individual Applicant Eligibility Verification Webinar, which includes details about the new eligibility criteria, required documentation, and frequently asked questions. 

For more information about the City of Los Angeles’ new SEIA Verification Request process please contact Rogoway Law today. 

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