City leaders in San Diego on Tuesday on a new equity program designed to enhance opportunities for people of color to enter the legal cannabis industry.
that the city council there “unanimously approved” the proposal, and it was proposed to officials following “recent studies showing people of color have suffered a disproportionate share of cannabis arrests in San Diego and that Whites own an outsized share of local cannabis businesses.”
The program will provide “start-up loans, fee waivers, help finding business sites and other assistance” to eligible applicants, .
“We had some members of the community, especially the Black community, who were locked up and locked down as a result of participating in something that many other members of society were openly engaging in,” San Diego city council President Sean Elo-Rivera said, . “And then the doors were thrown open to a market and those with the most resources were able to rush through and start hoarding the profits, all while folks were chained down by the actions of the past.”
applicants must meet the following two mandatory requirements: “Being convicted of a cannabis crime, or having had a family member convicted of a cannabis crime, after Jan. 1, 1994, within the San Diego city limits”; and “Being a current or former resident, for at least five cumulative years between 1980 and 2016, of Barrio Logan, Linda Vista, southeastern San Diego, Encanto, Golden Hill, North Park, City Heights, the College Area or San Ysidro.”
In addition, two out of the four following requirements must also be met: “Have a household income below 80 percent of the area median income, which is $106,900 for a family of four in 2022”; “Lost housing in San Diego through eviction, foreclosure or subsidy cancellation after 1994”; “Attended school in the San Diego Unified School District for at least five years between 1971 and 2016”; and “Placed in the foster care system at any time between 1971 and 2016.”
San Diego Unites with Other California Cities on Equity
San Diego joins other major California cities that have already set up their own social equity programs, which are funded by the state’s “Cannabis Equity Grants Program for Local Jurisdictions.”
That program, administered by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, provides financial aid to eligible communities in order to “support equity applicants and equity licensees” by offering “echnical support, regulatory compliance assistance, and assistance with securing the capital necessary to begin a business will further the stated intent of the [state’s cannabis law] by reducing barriers to entry into the regulated cannabis industry.”
Tuesday’s decision by the San Diego City Council means the city could receive a grant worth $5 million next year. In April, in state funding in support of its own cannabis equity program.
“COVID-19 had a significant impact on our city’s small businesses and entrepreneurs, including those in the cannabis industry,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed at the time. “With the assistance from the State and leadership at the Office of Cannabis, this funding will ensure that the Cannabis Equity Grant Program continues to achieve its goal of providing access to the industry for those who have been disproportionally affected by past policies.”
Breed’s office said that since San Francisco launched its equity program in February 2021, it “distributed over $5.5 million in flexible grant funding to more than 50 equity businesses, with awards ranging from about $50,000 to $150,000.”