Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Office of Business and Economic Development and the Bureau of Cannabis Control announced a new round of Cannabis Equity Grant funding that will see $15 million put towards empowering entrepreneurs from the communities hit the hardest by the drug war.
When announcing the funding, regulators emphasized that the program seeks to advance economic justice for populations and communities disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition. It accomplishes this by providing cities the cash they need to make equity a reality in their local market.
Los Angeles received the third most funding from this allocation with a fresh $2,030,997.42 to put towards the equity effort. San Francisco received $25,000 more than L.A., while Oakland topped the list at $2.4 million. Long Beach closed out the top five, taking in $1.2 million.
Equity advocates have spent years of work in city council chambers to convince local leaders they need to take the bull by the horns. It has shifted the conversation in their favor all over California and across the nation.
But what they cannot do is make capital appear for their peers to get a shot. And even for the good-natured companies doing mentorships and helping people get their foot in the door, there are only so many good ones to go around. This money gives qualifying applicants the ability to shoot their shot at slicing off a piece of the cannabis industry for themselves before the plate is empty.
“Cannabis prohibition and criminalization has had devastating impacts on generations of Californians,” said Nicole Elliott, senior advisor on cannabis to Gov. 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 main goals of the funding will be to assist equity program applicants and licensees with low/no-interest cash, reduced licensing fees or waived fees, and technical assistance. The technical assistance can include anything from one-on-one consulting to just generally navigating the hoops and hurdles of being a legal cannabis business.
The state also noted at least $11.5 million of the funding this round will go to those low/no-interest loans or grants.
The announcement included some commentary from Jessie Grundy, CEO of Green Peakz in Oakland. He said the state money he received through the city in a previous allocation was one of the best things that ever happened to his company.
“I was able to hire drivers and sales representatives,” Grundy said. “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.”