Social Equity 2.0: Lessons From Recent State Developments

By Drug Enforcement and Policy Center Staff | Spring 2021

Watch now! Social Equity 2.0 Series: Lessons from Recent State Developments

In recent years, social equity has become a routine part of conversations surrounding cannabis legalization. Yet, despite the stated goals of political leaders and various efforts of multiple states, challenges with implementing robust social equity programs persist.

The Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a virtual panel event that brought together experts from states whose recent cannabis legalizations include social equity provisions. Panelists discussed their state’s experience, lessons learned, and focus areas for federal legislators and regulators as they begin considering cannabis legalization nationwide.

A recording of the event is available to watch on the DEPC Facebook page. A transcript is also available below.

Social Equity 2.0: Lessons From Recent State Developments

Recorded April 28, 2021

Dianna Houenou, senior policy advisor and associate counsel, Office of the Governor, State of New Jersey, and incoming chair, New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission
Toi Hutchinson, senior advisor for cannabis control, Office of the Governor, State of Illinois
Jason Ortiz, president, Minority Cannabis Business Association, and board member, Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Shaleen Title, distinguished cannabis policy practitioner in residence, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, and vice-chair, Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition

Natalie Fertig, federal cannabis policy reporter, POLITICO



About the Speakers

photograph for Natalie Fertig

Natalie Fertig

Natalie Fertig is federal cannabis policy reporter for POLITICO. She focuses primarily on Congressional and White House politics, the gap between federal and state policy, and how the legalization of cannabis and the formation of a new industry are impacting people around America. Natalie is a graduate of the City University of New York’s Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.

photo of Dianna Houenou

Dianna Houenou

Dianna Houenou is the incoming chair of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission. She currently serves as senior policy advisor and associate counsel to Governor Phil Murphy, advising on policy issues concerning criminal justice, military and veterans, community affairs, and immigrants’ rights matters. She has been heavily involved in establishing New Jersey’s Office of New Americans and advancing Governor Murphy’s criminal justice priorities, including expungement reform and cannabis legalization with a racial justice focus.

photo of Toi Hutchinson

Toi Hutchinson

Toi Hutchinson served as an Illinois Senator, representing the 40th District from 2009 to 2019. Hutchinson is an original co-sponsor of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA), the most equity-centric law in the nation to legalize adult-use cannabis. In 2019, former Senator Hutchinson was appointed by Governor JB Pritzker as the Senior Advisor to the Governor for Cannabis Control, as the first African American woman in the country to hold this statewide post.

photo of Jason Ortiz

Jason Ortiz

Jason has been fighting to end the war on drugs since he first heard the words “School to prison pipeline” after being arrested for cannabis possession at age 16. He serves as the President of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, a not for profit trade association of entrepreneurs and activists of color. At MCBA, Jason was instrumental in creating model policies regarding equity in the cannabis industry. He also serves on the board of Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

Shaleen Title

Shaleen Title

Shaleen Title is an Indian-American attorney and longtime drug policy activist who currently serves as distinguished cannabis policy practitioner in residence at the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center. Title is also vice-chair of the Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition. She was appointed by the Massachusetts governor, attorney general, and treasurer to serve as one of five inaugural commissioners of the Cannabis Control Commission from 2017 to 2020.