Richmond gets grant to help create equity-based cannabis economy

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Richmond gets grant to help create equity-based cannabis economy
Photo by Yash Lucid from Pexels

By Kathy Chouteau

The City of Richmond has gotten some green in the form of a $75,000 GO-Biz Cannabis Equity Type-I Grant to create an equity-based cannabis economy in Richmond. With the funding, the City will conduct an Equity Assessment and draft a new Cannabis Equity Ordinance, according to the Richmond City Manager’s Office, Economic Development, in City Manager Laura Snideman’s weekly report.

The funding from the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), in partnership with the Bureau of Cannabis Control, aims to advance economic justice for populations and communities disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition by providing funding to local jurisdictions that are committed to promoting equity in the legal cannabis marketplace and eliminating barriers to entering the regulated cannabis industry, per GO-Biz.

“Cannabis prohibition and criminalization has had devastating impacts on generations of Californians,” said Nicole Elliott, senior advisor on cannabis to Governor Newsom. “As we work to safely reopen our economy, leading with equity across all sectors will ensure a just recovery and further our commitment to create a truly diverse legal industry. These efforts stand as a testament to our values as a state, and I applaud the work being done by these jurisdictions as they thoughtfully embrace this challenge.”

Once the City has completed the Equity Assessment—which looks to ensure that access and opportunities in the emerging cannabis industry are equitable—and has drafted an Equity Ordinance, it will be permitted to request up to $5,000,000 in a Type II grant to administer an equity program and fund programs, according to the weekly report. Possible programs include offering low-interest loans to equity applicants or funding direct technical assistance.

“Longstanding and persistent obstacles to general business opportunities for affected communities—primarily Black/African American, LatinX and Indigenous—that exist within our country are even more severe regarding cannabis-related businesses because of the racial targeting associated with the War on Drugs,” underscored the Richmond City Manager’s Office, Economic Development, in the weekly report.

Also in the weekly report, the City outlined its plans to collaborate with SCI Consulting Group—which assisted the Planning Department on previous cannabis ordinances—to analyze data and work with elected officials, existing/potential commercial cannabis business owners and other community stakeholders to complete this project. As part of this process, City staff will host community meetings, and report on findings during public Economic Development Commission meetings and Richmond City Council meetings.

To learn more about the program, contact the Richmond City Manager’s Office at 510-620-5560.