The state of Colorado established an adult-use cannabis market in 2014, becoming the second state to do so. Despite this, the state’s program is still evolving, with its governor recently signing a bill that would establish a social equity fund for the marijuana industry, and the state assembly approving a bill to increase the cannabis possession limit.
Last week, Gov. Jared Polis visited a cannabis dispensary in Denver to sign an initiative that would create a program in the Office of Economic Development and International Trade in the state, whose role would be to support marijuana businesses owned by individuals who met the specifications for social equity licenses, which is mainly individuals who were most affected by the war on drugs.
According to a summary of the initiative, the program would offer loans to business owners for ongoing business expenses and seed capital, in addition to grants to support the creation of jobs and innovation. Additionally, it would make technical assistance available to cannabis business owners.
The initiative was drafted in consultation with a coalition of minority-owned marijuana businesses known as Black Brown and Red Badged. To begin with, the program will be granted a preliminary infusion of $4 million from the cannabis tax fund in the state, which is roughly $1 million less than what Gov. Polis had requested earlier in January.
Before signing the initiative, Polis stated in a press conference that the war on cannabis disproportionately affected people of color, which effectively reduced their access to the cannabis industry that was regulated and fully legal in the state of Colorado. The governor observed that the initiative was particularly important as the federal Small Business Administration hindered federal resources from being used to support and help businesses that operate in the legal cannabis industry, noting that this was why the state was stepping forward to help fill that role.
In 2020, Polis signed another legislation that would establish a statewide definition of marijuana social equity licensees. These businesses will be the primary beneficiaries from the new law.
In a press release, Hashim Coates, the executive director of BBRB, stated that equity in marijuana would focus on new opportunities and possess the ability to take advantage of the said opportunities. However, he added, the efforts had been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, which led the legislature into a hiatus in 2020.
In other news, the House passed legislation last week that would increase the amount of cannabis an individual age 21 or above could possess.
Colorado isn’t the only state where cannabis industry laws are being proposed and passe. California was the first to legalize recreational marijuana, and many companies have set up shop in this state. An example is Grapefruit USA Inc. (OTCQB: GPFT), which has specialized in bringing highly disruptive products to the medical and recreational marijuana markets.
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