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California Awards $15 Million In Grants To Support Local Marijuana Equity Programs



California officials on Friday announced that they’ve awarded $15 million in grants to support local efforts to promote equity in the marijuana industry.

The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) distributed the funds to 16 cities and counties across the state through the Cannabis Equity Grants Program for Local Jurisdictions. Applications opened for the program late last year.

This is part of California’s efforts to use cannabis tax revenue to fund new and existing equity programs for those who have been disproportionately impacted by the drug war.

Gov. Gavin Newson’s (D) “budget proposal for next fiscal year includes $15 million in funding for this program and we intend to issue our next grant solicitation in October 2023,” GO-Biz said in a notice.

The grants for this fiscal year’s awardees range from $350,000 for the San Diego County to $1,996,487 for Oakland.

GO-Biz started accepting applications for an earlier round of grants under the program in 2021, with a total of $35 million made available for localities across the state. This and the next year’s funding cap is set at $15 million.

The department separately distributed a round of community reinvestment grants last year totaling $35.5 million with tax revenue generated from recreational marijuana sales.

GO-Biz announced last year that they’ve awarded 78 grants to organizations throughout the state that will support economic and social development in communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. The amount of funding and number of recipients for that program increased from 2021 levels, when the state awarded about $29 million in grants to 58 nonprofit organizations through the CalCRG program.

Meanwhile, California’s Department of Cannabis Control (DCC)  announced in October that the state would be awarding up to $20 million in marijuana tax-funded grants to universities that carry out research into cannabis science and policy—including studies on preventing monopolies in the legal industry and securing the genetics of “legacy” strains.

California is also making moves to expand its marijuana market beyond the state’s borders, with regulators recently seeking a formal opinion from the state attorney general’s office on whether allowing interstate marijuana commerce would put the state at “significant risk” of federal enforcement action.

The request for guidance from DCC is a key step that could eventually trigger a law that the governor signed last year, empowering him to enter into agreements with other legal states to import and export marijuana products.

Newsom also said last year that he wants to see marijuana federally legalized, in part so that his state’s cannabis farmers can “legally supply the rest of the nation.”

Separately, in the state legislature, a senator recently refiled a bill to legalize possession of certain psychedelics after his last attempt was derailed in the eleventh hour of the 2022 session.

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Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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