Throughout the past year, there has been much talk about how to make things more equitable for people of color and marginalized communities, and a big part of that is providing equity programs and expungements to the cannabis industry, in order to right the wrongs perpetrated by the war on drugs. Now, Los Angeles, Long Beach, and some other California cities are making history with their Cannabis Equity Grant Programs.
Long Beach received $1.26 million, and Los Angeles received $2.03 million. The goal of the programs is to advance justice for communities that have been left behind and impacted the most by criminalizing cannabis, and to give a leg up to minority applicants who are hoping to get involved with the industry.
Additionally, the cities of Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento, Fresno, Palm Springs, and the counties of Humboldt, Lake, and Mendocino, all added together, received a total of $14.45 million.
In total, in order to help the cannabis equity applicants in need, about $550,000 was provided to local jurisdictions so that they can start their own Cannabis Equity Program chapters. From that pot of money, $75,000 went to the cities of San Diego, Escondido, Modesto, Richmond, and the counties of San Diego, Sonoma, and Trinity. Iselton got $22,000.
Righting The Wrongs of Prohibition
The money was provided by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, who worked with the Bureau of Cannabis Control to make this all possible. The state also provided an additional $40 million in equity funding to support the industry and applicants in need.
The funding will go to equity loans for those hoping to get into the industry, offering no or low interest for those who need a leg up. It also goes toward reducing or waving licensing fees, providing technical assistance, giving counseling and training to new businesses, and helping businesses navigate requirements and regulations.
“Cannabis prohibition and criminalization has had devastating impacts on generations of Californians,” said Nicole Elliott, senior adviser on cannabis to Governor Gavin 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.”
It is also important to those involved with the program that a good percentage of the money go directly to applicants in need, instead of just to fees. At least $11.5 million of the money allocated for the Cannabis Equity Program will go directly to equity applicants, as well as to any applicants or licensees linked to communities that were impacted more extremely by the war on drugs.
Now, as cannabis businesses are finally able to claim and cash in on their equity programs, this positive social experiment will finally reveal how much the industry can thrive when marginalized people are given the tools to compete, instead of being kept in the dark.