California launches $20M grant to expand consumer access to regulated cannabis
The Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) is launching its Local Jurisdiction Retail Access Grant, a national first-of-its-kind program that will provide local jurisdictions with resources to expand access to regulated cannabis products to underserved areas. The retail access grant will prioritize areas where national surveys find high cannabis consumption but have little to no access to legal cannabis retail. This grant 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 cannabis marketplace threatens consumer safety and perpetuates the illegal market. By financially supporting the creation of pathways to retail licensure and creating incentives to ensure consumers have access to legal retail, these grant funds are intended to help reduce illicit market activity and provide consumers with access to legal retail stores and regulated products.
“Expanding access to California’s retail cannabis market is an important step towards protecting consumer safety and supporting a balanced market,” said DCC director Nicole Elliott. “The retail access grant program ultimately seeks to encourage legal retail operations in areas where existing consumers do not have convenient access to regulated cannabis.”
DCC on Tuesday released the grant guidelines, which outlined application requirements and begins a “Question and Answer” period that allows local governments to seek further clarification on the grant or application process.
Questions about the grant program will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Feb. 24, 2023. Questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. DCC will begin accepting applications for the grant on March 10, 2023. The application period for Phase I funding ends at 5 p.m. on April 28, 2023.
This is the first time a state has offered grants to provide access to retail cannabis licensing at the local government level. With over 60 percent of California jurisdictions not offering local retail licensing for cannabis, the retail access grant program can provide much-needed assistance to cities and counties, as they partner with the state to ensure consumers have sufficient access to regulated cannabis
Of the 33 counties in California that currently do not offer cannabis licenses, there are nine counties where the rates of cannabis consumption are substantial despite only having one or zero licensed cannabis retailers. In four of the nine counties, there are no licensed cannabis retailers (Butte, Glenn, Madera, and Sutter). Because cannabis consumers within these areas would benefit from expanded access to licensed cannabis, these counties – and the cities within them – will receive priority review should they apply for a grant and implement a permitting program.
Counties that currently do not have a local retailer licensing program but plan to create one are eligible to participate. Funding can be used for:
- Support of equity applicants and licensees
- Environmental reviews
- Permitting expenses
- Personnel costs
The $20 million grant program will initially award up to $10 million in grants by June 20, 2023. After June 30, 2023, an additional $10 million will be available to previous awardees as they issue licenses.
For more information on the retail access grant, please visit: https://cannabis.ca.gov/about-us/grant-funding/local-jurisdiction-retail-access-grant.