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California Awards $100 Million in Grants to Support Cannabis Businesses



California state officials announced the state has awarded $100 million in funding to help develop cannabis businesses in the state, mainly by getting the businesses fully licensed.

Officials from the state’s Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) distributed funds to 17 cities and counties where there are many provisional licenses rather than full-year licenses. The DCC initially announced applications for the Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program had opened in October 2021.

Provisional licenses were given out to help quickly establish the adult-use cannabis market with the temporary licensing category to expire on January 1, but the deadline was extended to give more opportunities to complete the permitting process and meet environmental requirements.

“The local jurisdictions receiving grants incorporated innovative approaches to meet the specific needs of their license communities, which is exactly what we were hoping for when developing this program,” DCC Director Nicole Elliott said. “Significant funding is being directed to process improvements and environmental assessments, both of which will help the state and local governments achieve short- and long-term goals.”

Long Beach, California is one of the 17 cities that is receiving a portion of the grant money from the DCC, with the city set to receive $3.9 million in grant money pending approval from Long Beach City Council. The city plans to use the funds to hire staff and consultants to help process applications, handle permits and perform inspections. The additional staff could help the city process and provide help to the 498 applicants waiting for approval from Long Beach.

Some of the money is also intended to help equity applicants for licenses, and

Long Beach has said it will also use the money for other things, such as website design, technology improvements and training to assist equity applicants. Of the 32 cannabis dispensaries open in Long Beach, none are owned by equity applicants. Only one license has been awarded to an equity applicant, under the distribution license category. According to city data, the city has 12 pending equity applications.

The Long Beach City Council voted in October to expand the city’s cannabis social equity program by allowing eight more dispensaries to operate exclusively to applicants in the city’s social equity program. To decide the new business owners, the city will implement a merit-based lottery, requiring applicants to go through an interview process first and then choosing winners at random.

Currently, Long Beach issues 50 licenses and 150 provisional licenses per year. The new funding will help reduce the length of the licensing process by about half while also providing better customer support throughout the process. Of the 498 pending applications, over half of the unprocessed licenses are for medical cannabis cultivators, distributors or manufacturers.

Sacramento also received a portion of the grant from the DCC, with the state’s capital receiving $5.7 million to help businesses go from provisional licensing to full licenses. The DCC mentioned 80 percent of cannabis businesses in Sacramento are operating under provisional licenses.

“In the coming months, the city plans to hire contractors to create a virtual cannabis navigation system in which both applicants and current license holders can receive assistance in regulatory compliance, planning, building, fire and security issues,” said Davina Smith, who leads Sacramento’s  Office of Cannabis Management. “In addition, the city will be updating its ability to track an applicant’s/licensee’s progress in the cannabis permitting process so the city can proactively assist.”

Of the $5.7 million awarded, nearly $1 million will be set aside for funding for security upgrades to allow cannabis businesses in Sacramento to comply with new requirements set by the police department to help combat recent cannabis burglaries.