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Sacramento lawmakers voting on $5.8M grant to help legal cannabis market

With California cannabis retailers continuing to face a drawn-out licensing processes, the city would put most of the funds toward its equity program.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — While California's Department of Cannabis Control greenlit about $5.8 million in grant funds for the Sacramento Office of Cannabis Management on Dec. 24, 2021, the City Council has the final say on whether to accept the money.

The council is expected to vote on a final stamp of approval at Tuesday evening's meeting with more than $3 million being awarded because of Sacramento's Cannabis Opportunity Reinvestment and Equity (CORE) Program.

The funds come at a time when about 82% of the state’s cannabis licensees still held provisional licenses. As of April 2021, according to the governor’s office, there are more unlicensed retailers working in the state than licensed distributors.

City of Sacramento grant details:

Prospective cannabis retailers with smaller financial backing, often small business owners of color, struggle to comply with the list of necessary documents, plans, permits and licenses.

Anywhere between $16,640 and $33,610 in fees would also have to be taken care of before a retailer can open their doors to commercial sale, according to the city.

City of Sacramento's cannabis licensing process:

Sacramento's Cannabis Program

California voters legalized cannabis in the state through Prop. 64 in 2016.

To encourage more business owners of color and others significantly impacted by War on Drugs-era policy, Sacramento officials established its Cannabis Opportunity Reinvestment and Equity (CORE) Program in 2018.

The program includes a fee wavier and more funding for business permits toward eligible retailers.

At least 1,590 cannabis-related arrests were made in Sacramento in 2006, but after a 2010 state bill reduced possession of less than an ounce of cannabis to an infraction, arrest rates related to cannabis dropped 65% by the year of legalization.

Black and Hispanic residents were arrested for cannabis at a disproportionate rate compared to white residents — making up about 72% of arrests though only accounting for about 42% of the population, according to 2010 city arrest records.

Participants need to meet at least one of conditions to be eligible:

  • Lives or has lived in a low-income household and; has been arrested in Sacramento for cannabis-related crimes between 1980 and 2011, or has an immediate family member meeting the above criteria.
  • Lived in a low-income household in the following zip codes for 5 consecutive years between 1980 and 2011: 95811, 95815, 95817, 95820, 95823, 95824, 95826, 95828, 95818, 95838 and 95832.
  • Businesses or cannabis social enterprise with at least 51% ownership by anyone meeting the above criteria.

WATCH MORE | Why more people of color aren't in the legal cannabis industry:

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