The image has become familiar: presented by floor-to-ceiling shiny windows and a smiling, iPad-holding greeter, dispensaries in California look far more like an Apple Store than the smelly back alleys and strip mall parking lots where we used to buy our weed.

No longer the “devils lettuce,” cannabis is now a feature of “wellness,” and “plant medicine.” If Don Draper were real and working today, he’d certainly be pushing pot.

However, as more money has flowed into the recreational cannabis sector, the industry has predictably presented the same kind of bias found across the business world. Legal weed is overwhelmingly white — with white owners making up 80-90 percent of cannabis business owners nationwide. San Francisco’s Cannabis Equity Program was supposed to address exactly that problem by uplifting the mostly Black and brown communities hardest hit by the War on Drugs.

Shawn M. Richards is an equity program success story. By fall of 2019, the…

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