Cannabis equity

Cannabis equity

California’s cannabis equity efforts support people and communities harmed by cannabis criminalization. These efforts lower barriers to the cannabis industry for those hit hardest by the War on Drugs. 

Listen to our Deputy Director of Equity and Inclusion talk to two Black female entrepreneurs in this video about the investments DCC has made toward creating equity in the cannabis industry.

Effects of cannabis criminalization

Cannabis prohibition had a devastating impact on Californians and people across the country. The long-term consequences of cannabis prohibition continue to impact:

  • People convicted of a cannabis offense
  • Their families
  • The communities in which they live

Challenges to entering the cannabis industry

Cannabis business owners face many challenges to getting started, like:

  • Getting access to capital
  • Understanding complex regulatory requirements
  • Finding locations where cannabis businesses can operate
  • Developing business relationships
  • Getting technical support

It can be even harder to get started for people harmed by cannabis criminalization.

How California supports cannabis equity businesses

California supports cannabis equity through efforts at both the state and local levels.

State support

Through the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC), equity business owners can get:

  • Their cannabis business state license fees waived, and
  • Technical support with navigating the state licensing process.

Local support

California provides grant funding to local equity programs. These programs offer support to those harmed by cannabis criminalization. They provide opportunities tailored to the:

  • Circumstances of their community, and the
  • Experiences of their residents. 

Local equity programs serve as hubs of innovation that:

  • Surface best practices, and
  • Show new and effective ways to provide support.

If you’re a city or county official, you may be able to apply for grant funding to run an equity program in your area. To learn more, you can:

Help for equity business owners

You may qualify for equity support if you:

  • Are a cannabis business owner, and
  • Were harmed by cannabis criminalization.

State license fee waivers

If you’re an equity business owner, you may not have to pay state licensing fees. Learn more about equity fee waivers for cannabis businesses. Find out if you qualify to get your license fee waived.

Technical support with the licensing process

If you’re an equity business owner and need help getting your state license, email

If you need support with getting your local cannabis permit, contact your city or county for help. 

Local equity programs

If you’re an equity business owner, you may be able to get help through your local equity program. This may include:

  • Priority application processing
  • Access to business partnerships
  • Interagency advocacy
  • Reduced or waived local fees
  • Technical support, like one-on-one consulting and training
  • Help with navigating cannabis licensing and regulatory requirements
  • Low- or no-interest loans or grants

Contact your city or county to see what resources are available in your area. 

How consumers can support equity businesses

Consumers can also play a role in supporting cannabis equity. Support equity businesses by:

  • Buying products made by equity brands
  • Asking retailers how they support equity businesses
  • Asking local policymakers how they support equity businesses
  • Donating to organizations working to support cannabis equity