California’s Cannabis Equity Grant, Bureau of Cannabis Control Weighs In

California cities are faced with a strict deadline of April 1st, 2019 to apply for a Social Equity Grant to fund Cannabis Equity Programs in their municipality. The grant, managed by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control, is a total of $10 million that will be divided amongst eligible cities.

Cities are only eligible for the grant if they have a cannabis equity model in place. Large cities such as Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Sacramento, and San Francisco already have equity programs.

The BCC expects all cities with equity programs to apply for the grant. Once the $10 million grant is broken up amongst the cities, they will then disseminate the grant funds to individual operators in their city.

Candid Chronicle spoke to the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s Assistant Chief of Communications, Alex Traverso, who says that cities should apply for the equity grant because “There is a lot of competition in the California cannabis market and grants like this really will help small businesses better compete with larger operators.”

In Fall 2018, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 1294 which required the BCC to issue the $10 million grant. The bill became effective in January 2019, after which the BCC began drafting program guidelines and grant applications. On March 1st, the BCC released the grant application requirements and a deadline of April 1, allowing only one month for cities to apply.

Traverso says the BCC will not extend the deadline, explaining “The hope is that the $10 million currently available will be helpful to grant applicants and that success will show the need for equity programs in other jurisdictions, as well as additional funding for equity applicants in those areas. The funding must be distributed before the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2019) hence why no time to delay.”

San Diego, the third largest city in California, has discussed implementing a cannabis equity program. The council plans to review San Diego’s Cannabis Equity Program this Spring, though their inexpedience may prove to be detrimental to communities that would benefit from the grant. San Diego has a cap on how many cannabis permits will be allowed in the city, and community members are concerned that those will be all accounted for by the time an equity program is installed.

Cash-strapped cities with high demographics of people of color and low-income communities could be jumping on this grant opportunity to improve.

Cannabis equity programs and grants would not only improve communities affected by the war on drugs but also aid the entirety of the city where they are implemented. In a study conducted by Frontier Data on the theoretical tax revenue if cannabis is legalized, “If full legalization occurred in all 50 states today, there would be an excess of 654,000 jobs, and would increase to 1 million jobs by 2025.”

For example, in Lemon Grove, a city comprised mainly of people of color,13.6% of the city’s population is living in poverty. Lemon Grove is on the brink of bankruptcy, with city officials looking for ways to fix their financial problems.

“The hope is that this grant money will help those adversely impacted by the war on drugs,” says Alex Traverso, Assistant Chief of Communications, Bureau of Cannabis Control.

It’s uncertain whether the BCC will issue another equity grant opportunity like this. According to Traverso, “It depends on whether or not additional legislation is drafted and signed by the Governor. This is one-time funding for this fiscal year.”

Featured photo by @confessionsofahomegrow.