On March 15, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), announced that, in partnership with the Bureau of Cannabis Control, it would be providing $15 million in grant funding through the Cannabis Equity Grants Program for Local Jurisdictions.
“Cannabis prohibition and criminalization has had devastating impacts on generations of Californians,” said Nicole Elliott, senior advisor on cannabis to Governor Newsom. “As we work to safely reopen our economy, leading with equity across all sectors will ensure a just recovery and further our commitment to create a truly diverse legal industry. These efforts stand as a testament to our values as a state, and I applaud the work being done by these jurisdictions as they thoughtfully embrace this challenge.”
The Cannabis Equity Grants Program for Local Jurisdictions seeks to advance economic justice for populations and communities disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition by providing funding to local jurisdictions that are committed to promoting equity in the legal cannabis marketplace and eliminating barriers to entering the regulated cannabis industry.
Individuals convicted of a cannabis offense and their families suffer the long-term consequences of prohibition and criminalization. These individuals have a more difficult time entering the adult-use cannabis industry due, in part, to a lack of access to capital, business space, technical support, and regulatory compliance assistance.
“We are only as strong as our weakest components,” noted Gina Kranwinkel, president and CEO of the National Association of Cannabis Businesses (NACB). Last October, the NACB released Social Equity Policy Guidelines (SEP) to assist in the relief of the adverse socioeconomic effects caused by cannabis criminalization. “If we utilize the tax revenues in a way to help the lowest income areas,” she said, “then we build society up together. And by supporting the community in what they need, they will be able to have a better academic advantage in the future.”
Jurisdictions will use this funding to develop their cannabis equity programs and assist their equity program applicants and licensees by providing low/no-interest loans or grants, reduced licensing fees or waived fees, and technical assistance, including one-on-one consulting and training and navigation assistance with cannabis licensing and regulatory requirements.
“The California Cannabis Equity Grant that I received from the City of Oakland was one of the best things to happen to my company. I was able to hire drivers and a sales representative,” said Jessie Grundy, CEO of Green Peakz. “California investing in Californians is key to equity work. Thank you to the team at GO-Biz for doing more than just helping us get licenses, but also investing in equity companies being successful.”
At least $11.5 million of the funding, in the form of low/no-interest loans or grants, will be directly allocated to cannabis equity applicants and licensees specifically identified by local jurisdictions as being linked to populations or communities that were negatively or disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition and criminalization. Click here to learn which jurisdictions are eligible.