Colorado Launches Cannabis Social Equity Grant Program

Colorado Launches Cannabis Social Equity Grant Program
High Times

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis last week announced the launch of a state grant program for cannabis social equity companies, offering licensed operators a new source of capital for their businesses. The governor’s office said in a statement that the new grant program is “a bold, forward-thinking initiative to save small businesses money, foster a more equitable cannabis industry, and make it easier for Coloradans to thrive in one of the state’s fastest growing industries.” The new grants are an initiative of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) and its Cannabis Business Office. The program is designed to provide financial support to licensed cannabis social equity companies to accelerate the growth of their enterprises. “Colorado’s nation-leading innovations in the cannabis industry are strengthening our economy, advancing diversity, and inclusion, and saving small business owners money,” Polis said last week in a statement from the governor’s office. Catching Up on Social Equity in Colorado When Colorado legalized recreational pot in 2012, the state’s groundbreaking cannabis reform legislation failed to adequately address decades of racial disparities in the enforcement of cannabis prohibition. Since then, social equity has become a key issue as other states draft plans to remove criminal penalties for cannabis use and legalize a regulated cannabis economy. Colorado is now taking measures to institute social equity provisions into the state’s cannabis regulations. In 2020, the state passed legislation to pardon those with past cannabis convictions. And last March, Polis signed a bill creating the Cannabis Business Office to provide financial and technical support to businesses owned by individuals disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs. The agency opened and began providing services to social equity applicants in July. “The Cannabis Business Office will provide novel and ambitious programming to provide more equitable opportunity in the cannabis industry,”…

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