Skip to content

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 criminalization continue to impact:

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

Local Equity Promising Practices

The Department of Cannabis Control is committed to providing equity to communities harmed by cannabis criminalization. We support local communities who share these values by lifting up practices that are making a difference. 

Through discussions with equity licensees, we are uncovering the most effective and innovative equity policies from jurisdictions throughout the state. By talking to business owners affected by the War on Drugs and asking them what policies have helped them start or grow their business, we are gathering information about what all of us can do to advance our shared commitment to equity. 

This list of promising practices will help local jurisdictions develop equity resources that fit the needs of their local cannabis businesses. These links will also serve business owners looking for equity programs and can be used by regulators looking for ideas on how to achieve equity goals.

We’re happy to share these stories as we work together to continue supporting local efforts.

Photo of Carrie Broadus

Promising Practice: Technical Assistance

Owner Spotlight: Carrie Broadus
Pot Luck Enterprises, LLC

Photo of Reese Benton

Promising Practice: Direct Grants

Owner Spotlight: Reese Benton
Posh Green Cannabis Boutique

Photo of Maisha Bahati

Promising Practice: No-interest Revolving Loans

Owner Spotlight: Maisha Bahati
Crystal Nugs

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.

Photo of Kika Keith

“Considering our people have never been allowed to partake in the economic upside of industries such as cotton, alcohol, and tobacco, there is certainly a genuine pride that comes with being the first Black-woman-owned social equity dispensary in Los Angeles.”

– Kika Keith, Gorilla Rx gorillarxwellness.com

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/or) deferred, and
  • Technical support with navigating the state licensing process.

California also directly supports equity business owners through Cannabis Equity Tax Credits.

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 and deferrals

If you’re an equity business owner, you may not have to pay state licensing fees. Learn more about equity fee relief for cannabis businesses by visiting https://cannabis.ca.gov/applicants/apply-for-equity-fee-relief/. Find out if you qualify to get your license fee waived or deferred.

Technical support with the licensing process

If you’re an equity business owner and need help getting your state license, email equity@cannabis.ca.gov.

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