Adolphus Pruitt, St. Louis City’s NAACP president, was initially a vocal supporter of a marijuana legalization amendment aimed at addressing the lack of Black participation in the industry. However, his perspective changed when he discovered details of the requirements for those seeking microbusiness licenses outlined in the amendment.
The application was set to be released on June 6, 2023, and Pruitt was shocked to find that the list of qualifying zip codes did not include any areas in north St. Louis, where a significant portion of the Black population resides. Out of the 121 listed zip codes, only nine are from the St. Louis general area, and not a single one is from north St. Louis. Some zip codes are for post office boxes or institutions with higher-than-average mail traffic, while others cover areas with minimal residential presence or affluent suburbs. Only one zip code represents a predominantly Caucasian population. Applicants are required to prove their residence within the confines of those zip codes through utility bills, property tax receipts/bills or lease documents.
Following his discovery, Pruitt promptly wrote to the Health & Senior Services department of the state demanding corrections before the application’s release. The state plans to award 48 licenses to microbusinesses this coming fall, with the application window open from July 27–August 10, 2023.
Pruitt emphasized that the issues with the zip codes in St. Louis are just one aspect of the problematic nature of the state’s cannabis rules. Many of the listed zip codes are either post office boxes and unique codes, or are referred to rural locations with sparse populations.
The Cannabis Regulation Division’s head, Amy Moore, responded to Pruitt’s concerns, stating that the department stood by the listed zip codes. Moore explained that the analysis was based on incarceration data provided by the State Highway Patrol, the only comprehensive dataset available.
When questioned about the inclusion of specific St. Louis zip codes, the DHSS spokesperson mentioned their association with tract areas during census, but the highway patrol denied providing those zip codes to DHSS. Pruitt raised doubts about whether the zip codes accurately represented residents’ locations, suggesting that the presence of correctional facilities might explain the prevalence of rural zip codes. Moore clarified that correctional facilities did not skew the data, as only a few prisons fell within the listed zip codes.
Other concerns included the lack of education and outreach regarding the program. The law mandates the hiring of a chief equity officer to ensure social and economic equity requirements are met, but little outreach has been observed so far.
As these concerns are addressed and the recreational cannabis market gets underway, there could be openings for plenty of companies, including Advanced Container Technologies Inc. (OTC: ACTX), to build on their footprint within this region of the country.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Advanced Container Technologies Inc. (OTC: ACTX) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/ACTX
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