Leaders in San Francisco announced last week that the city has received $4.5 million in funding from the state of California to bolster its Cannabis Equity Grant Program.
The funds, part of the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, “will help build on the Program’s original goal to combat disparities in the cannabis industry through the establishment of equity cannabis businesses,” the city said on Friday.
“COVID-19 had a significant impact on our city’s small businesses and entrepreneurs, including those in the cannabis industry,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed in the announcement. “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.”
Last year, San Francisco and a number of California cities such as Los Angeles and Oakland created their own Cannabis Equity Grant Programs with the help of funding from the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.
Since then, San Francisco says that its Office of Cannabis (OOC) has “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.”
“Of the grant recipients, 65% identify as people of color, strengthening access to communities that have historically been harmed by past policies and the War on Drugs. OOC has worked diligently to ensure that all available funding is used for the benefit of applicants, with 100% of the grants being awarded before the expiration of the grant term,” the city said in its announcement of the new funding on Friday.
“From a historical lens, the Equity Grant Program represents government proactively addressing drug policies that have harmed our communities,”Nikesh Patel, director of the San Francisco Office of Cannabis said in the announcement. “We hear from social equity applicants just how powerful these grants are to advance their businesses. We take pride in continuing to develop a program that includes community input, meets applicants’ needs, and ultimately reduces barriers to entering the cannabis industry.”
The city says that the program “is structured to allow grantees the ability to determine the best use of their award.”
Those grantees “may seek grant reimbursements and/or grant advancements for 13 eligible expense categories including, accounting services, capital improvements, legal assistance, regulatory compliance, and rent, among others,” and additionally, they “may leverage free technical assistance to better support them through this process.”
The announcement on Friday included testimonials from some of those grant recipients.
“The Office of Cannabis Grant Program provides vital support and opportunity to social equity applicants to start their own businesses in the regulated cannabis industry. As a San Francisco native from the Fillmore District, and a woman of color, my community has disproportionately been affected by the War on Drugs. I would like to thank the Office of Cannabis for this unprecedented opportunity to reach my dreams, and I couldn’t be more grateful,” said Joyce Hicks, CEO, Neicey Pieces LLC.
Rudy Corpuz, CEO, SGI Brannan LLC, said that the grant program “provided me with an opportunity to open my own retail store.”
“It’s helped me tremendously, not only as a social equity partner, but also as a long-standing member of the San Francisco community who seeks to uplift those who’ve also been hurt by the War on Drugs,” said Corpuz.
Meanwhile, Perry Jones, CEO, Cali Heals, says that “not all money is good money” when it comes to building a business.
“However, when it comes to the San Francisco Equity Program, cannabis grants provided me with an opportunity to not only establish my own cannabis company, but to potentially realize generational wealth for me and my family,” Jones said.