In 2012, Colorado became the first state in the U.S.A. to legalise the use and sale of recreational marijuana after passing a constitutional amendment. The first store opened its doors on January 1st, 2014. Today, 10 years later, Colorado is launching a pilot grant programme to assist cannabis companies applying for a social equity licence and help their business grow.
Grant Proposal and Eligibility
Here are the reasons and purposes behind Colorado Governor Jared Polis’ decision to launch a state grant programme for social equity cannabis businesses. This measure offers licensed operators a new source of capital for their enterprises. In a statement, Jared Polis claimed that the new grant programme is “a bold, forward-thinking initiative to save small businesses money, foster a more equitable cannabis industry, and make it easier for Coloradans to thrive in one of the state’s fastest-growing industries.” The goal is to provide financial support for social equity licensed cannabis businesses to accelerate their growth.
How to Apply for a Grant
To be eligible, companies must complete the “Cannabis Business Technical Assistance programme,” or an associated programme, in order to learn about the fundamentals to enter the regulated cannabis industry. Pre-application and application submissions must be filled out, together with the filing of a detailed business plan describing the way in which the amount granted will be allocated. Following these steps does not guarantee the grant will be awarded, since all approved applications will be then evaluated by supervisors. Then, those companies which have been selected will be notified of the grant award.
Applications for the grant are divided into two categories, according to the stage of maturity of the business. The amounts awarded range from USD 25,000 to 50,000. Grants are not only awarded to finished projects, but also future projects, including proposals to meet “brick and mortar regulatory requirements, technical and expert requirements, licensing and regulatory fees, operational needs, and innovative initiatives.”
The Road Towards Social Equity
This is not the first time the state of Colorado intends to improve its policies with measures of this kind. In 2020, the “Centennial State” passed a law granting pardon and expungement for all cannabis-related offences. Apart from this, in 2021, Jared Polis signed a bill that instituted the Cannabis Business Office, with the purpose of supporting and providing technical and financial assistance to companies that have been affected by drug policies. There is no doubt that Colorado is making progress acknowledging that drug policies must benefit those sectors that have suffered from harm and criminalisation based on erroneous labels for years, with minorities being the most vulnerable groups.