Cannabis entrepreneurs disproportionately impacted by the drug war will split $30 million in grant funding, courtesy the California Bureau of Cannabis Control and Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.
The two entities announced the initiative last week. It is meant to support equitable business development in local jurisdictions around the Golden State.
A press release reported the program will empower this businesses through “technical assistance to individuals, reduced licensing fees or waived fees, assistance in recruitment, training, and retention of a qualified and diverse workforce, and business resilience such as emergency preparedness.”
The initiative calls for $23 million to be allocated for low- or no-interest loans for cannabis licensees and business applicants that are “identified by local jurisdictions as being from communities most harmed by cannabis prohibition.”
“These Cannabis Equity Grants reflect California’s desire to lead our legalization efforts with equity and inclusivity,” Nicole Elliott, senior advisor on cannabis to the governor, said. “We applaud these jurisdictions for not only embracing the challenge of creating pathways to participate in a legitimate cannabis marketplace, but for doing so in a thoughtful way that seeks to uplift all communities.”
“It is our hope that these efforts lead to the creation of a truly diverse industry and that these programs serve as a blueprint for others who share in our commitment to address systemic discrimination and create real prosperity for all,” she said.
The funding goes to the following jurisdictions:
Oakland ($6,576,705), Los Angeles ($6,042,014), San Francisco ($4,995,000) and Sacramento ($3,831,955), among others.
“Cannabis prohibition and criminalization had a devastating impact on populations and communities across California. Individuals convicted of a cannabis offense and their families suffer the long-term consequences of prohibition and criminalization,” a report on the grant program said. “These individuals have a more difficult time entering the newly created adult-use cannabis industry due, in part, to a lack of access to capital, business space, technical support, and regulatory compliance assistance.”
“Offering technical support, regulatory compliance assistance, and assistance with securing the capital necessary to begin a business will further the stated intent of the [Adult Use of Marijuana Act] by reducing barriers to licensure and employment in the regulated industry. Offering these types of support will also aid the state in its goal of eliminating or reducing the illicit cannabis market by bringing more people into the legal marketplace.”
The American Civil Liberties Union said there’s still a lot of work to be done. A recent report from the civil rights group found that while arrests decline post-legalization, racial disparities in enforcement persist.