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California to offer financial support for cannabis equity businesses through fee waivers

Cannabis entrepreneurs affected by the War on Drugs can have their license or renewal fee waived, following the approval of emergency regulations issued by the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC). These regulations implement Senate Bill (SB) 166, signed into law on September 23, 2021, which outlined broad criteria for the waivers and mandated that DCC have a fee waiver program in place by January 1, 2022.

Read the approved regulations.

DCC will begin processing fee waiver requests on January 1, 2022, and anticipates rolling out additional guidance for licensees and applicants in the coming weeks. $30 million has been set aside to fund these fee waivers.

“Access to capital is the number one challenge for equity operators, and the approval of these regulations puts much-needed financial support into the hands of businesses immediately,” said Nicole Elliott, DCC Director. “While this is a critical first step, we recognize that there is more work to be done to refine these rules. That is why DCC will immediately begin engaging directly with equity operators and stakeholders to begin the development of regulations for the permanent rulemaking package.”

Here’s what equity operators and local equity program leaders had to say about today’s approval of state equity fee waiver regulations:

“Equity fee waivers will allow me to create additional business opportunities in my community. High fees are a barrier to equitable participation, and I’m excited about the opportunity the state is providing.” – Ali Jamalian, Sunset Connect (Equity Business Owner)

“State fee waivers provided by SB 166 to Qualified Equity Applicants and Licensees as well as Locally Verified Equity Applicants and Licensees will provide much needed financial assistance to individuals and communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition and its enforcement who are seeking to enter into the legal commercial cannabis industry.” – Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation

“Fee waivers for equity vendors are an important and tangible expression of California’s commitment to ensuring that those previously harmed by the war on drugs can participate in the sale of cannabis today. Waiving the collection of fees is an efficient method of providing meaningful assistance to equity applicants while they navigate the expensive process of starting a business. San Francisco waives fees for equity applicants for this purpose, and we are excited by and support the State’s intention to do the same.” – San Francisco Office of Cannabis

“The City of Oakland’s 2017 cannabis equity analysis identified access to capital as a primary barrier to equity applicants entering the regulated marketplace,” said Greg Minor, Assistant to the City Administrator in the City of Oakland. “Waiving state licensing fees for equity applicants is a critical step in addressing disparities within the cannabis industry and supporting communities that were disproportionately impacted by cannabis-related arrests and systemic racism.” – Oakland Cannabis Office

“The regulations developed by the Department of Cannabis Control to waive state cannabis license fees are greatly anticipated and will have an immediate and profound impact on the ability of cannabis equity businesses in California to get operational and remain operational. This is an important step towards ensuring those most impacted by the War on Drugs will be able to open their businesses and operate in the regulated cannabis marketplace.” – Sacramento Office of Cannabis Management

Read more about the equity fee waiver regulations.

The Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) licenses and regulates commercial cannabis activity within California. DCC works closely with all stakeholders, including businesses and local jurisdictions, to create a sustainable legal cannabis industry and a safe and equitable marketplace. DCC develops and implements progressive cannabis policies with robust protections for public health, safety and the environment. DCC was recently formed by merging the three state cannabis programs.

To learn more about the California cannabis market, state licenses or laws, visit www.cannabis.ca.gov.

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