The California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) started a $20 million grant program to help more people get access to legal cannabis. The program is a “national first-of-its-kind,” according to the DCC.
The DCC said in a press release that the grant will go to places where national surveys show there is a lot of cannabis use but few or no places to buy it. The agency stated the program “seeks to incentivize local best practices by prioritizing programs that support equity operators and utilize existing licensing and permitting practices.”
Lack of access to California’s legal market for cannabis puts people’s safety at risk and keeps the illegal market going. These grant funds are meant to help cut down on illegal markets and give people access to legal stores and products that are regulated. They do this by providing financial support for the creation of paths to retail licensing and creating incentives to make sure consumers have access to legal retail.
This is the first time that a state has given grants to help local governments get licenses to sell cannabis. Since more than 60% of California’s local governments don’t offer local retail licenses for cannabis, the Retail Access Grant Program can help cities and counties as they work with the state to make sure people have enough access to regulated cannabis.
Up to $10 million in grants will be given out by June 20, 2023, through the $20 million grant program. After June 30, 2023, previous awardees will be able to get an extra $10 million as they give out licenses.
According to Ganjapreneur, there are 33 counties in California that don’t have cannabis licenses right now. Of those 33 counties, nine have high rates of cannabis use, even though they only have one or no licensed cannabis retailers. There are no licensed pot shops in four of the nine counties (Butte, Glenn, Madera, and Sutter). Because people in these areas would benefit from having more access to licensed cannabis, their counties and cities will be given priority if they want to apply for a grant and start a permitting program.
On March 10, 2023, DCC will start taking applications for the grant. The last day to apply for Phase I funding is April 28, 2023, at 5 p.m.