California, Michigan Move to Fund Social Equity Programs

The grant programs are designed to help social equity businesses get a leg up.

Both California and Michigan made separate moves to get more funding to social equity cannabis companies in recent days, with the former poised to award $15 million to local governments that have social equity permit programs and the latter newly reserving $1 million in grants for eligible companies.

The California Equity Grants Program funnels state money to city or county governments, which in turn either use it to administer social equity programs or deliver it to businesses to use as startup capital. Applications will be accepted through Dec. 14 by the Governor’s Department of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz).

In the last round in February, $15 million was split among 16 cities and counties in varying amounts.

The funds are intended to “aid local equity program efforts to support equity applicants and equity licensees. Offering technical support, regulatory compliance assistance, and assistance with securing the capital necessary to begin a business … by reducing barriers to licensure and employment in the regulated industry,” according to the grant notice from GO-Biz.

In the most recent round, Oakland and Los Angeles both received the lion’s share, with about $2 million apiece, while San Francisco, Sacramento, Humboldt County and Long Beach all received more than $1 million. The other eight recipients received less than $1 million each.

The Michigan Social Equity Grant Program, by contrast, will split its $1 million among however many qualified businesses apply, and the state Cannabis Regulatory Association suggested in a press release that there may be as many as 100 grant recipients that receive $10,000 apiece.

Funds awarded will have to be spent on employee education, business needs, or community investment, according to a press release from the CRA.

To be eligible for the Michigan grants, companies must:

Have a valid recreational marijuana business permit.
Be majority-owned by a registered social equity program participant.
Be a member of the state’s “Social Equity All-Star Program.”

The application window opens Friday and closes Jan. 26 at 5 p.m.

“Many of our social equity licensees have invested everything they have in their cannabis business, and they truly deserve this shot in the arm,” CRA Executive Director Brian Hanna said in a statement. “I’m excited to see how our licensees use these funds and the positive impact they can have on their employees and their communities.”

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