Colorado is targeted on social justice within the marijuana trade

After news that Colorado has sold $ 10 billion in cannabis products sold, lawmakers are expanding and moving the legal marijuana program forward. Recently, state officials have taken steps to raise the limits on cannabis ownership and bring much-needed capital into minority-owned marijuana businesses.

Colorado governor signs social justice bill for the cannabis industry

On March 21, Governor Jared Polis signed a move to establish a new program in the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, providing $ 4 million in loans, grants and technical assistance to social justice licensees hardest hit by the drug war provides.

Governor Polis, who signed a separate act last year creating nationwide standards for approving social justice licenses, was clear about his intentions for the new program:

“We know that the long shadow of drug laws in our failed war on marijuana falls disproportionately on people of color, effectively restricting access to an industry that is perfectly legal and regulated in our state,” Governor Polis said before speaking Bill signed. “We can’t leave equity to chance in any industry, especially in a new industry when it gets going.”

The program was developed in consultation with the Black Brown and Red Badged (BBRB) network, a coalition of black and brown business owners in the Colorado cannabis industry. According to Hashim Coates, Executive Director of the BBRB, the group’s goal is a marijuana industry that is fair, equitable and profitable for minority cannabis companies. Making Sure They Meet That Goal BBRB works directly with Colorado lawmakers to drive laws that work towards diversity and inclusion.

“Justice for cannabis is about new opportunities and how to capitalize on those opportunities,” Coates said. “We know that access to capital is the most important component of success for these entrepreneurs. That’s why we designed a loan program similar to that of the company [federal Small Business Administration]. ”

The summary of the draft law states that the grants and loans granted will be used for “start-up capital and ongoing business expenses” and “to support innovation and job creation”.

The $ 4 million investment in local businesses will be funded by Colorado’s cannabis tax revenue, which raised over $ 387 million for the state in 2020. Based on the latest proposal from Governor Polis and the Office for Economic Development and International Trade, approximately $ 3 million will be allocated to a range of soft loans for minority companies. The remaining funds will be used to provide business grants and support new business owners through consultation and strategic planning.

Senator Julie Gonzales, a sponsor of the bill, referred to statistics unearthed through a 2020 poll by the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses. An overwhelming majority of marijuana business owners have been identified as white. Only 12.7% have been identified as Latino – although Latino makes up almost 30% of the population, and only 5.6% as black. Senator Gonzales noted that the state “has left justice to chance for far too long and [Colorado] These inequalities were reflected in this new industry. “

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