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California’s Cannabis Regulator Launches Grant Scheme For Areas Without Legal Cannabis Access

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Feb 15, 2023   
Cannabis buds on dollar bills,

Image credit: iStock

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Recreational cannabis has been legally available in California since January 1, 2018. Yet, five years later, the majority of cities and counties (61%) in the state still don’t allow retail cannabis businesses to operate within their jurisdictions.

To help provide legal cannabis to consumers in these areas, California’s cannabis regulator, the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC), has launched a Local Jurisdiction Retail Access Grant, a “first-of-its-kind program” that will provide such jurisdictions with resources to expand access to regulated cannabis products.

In a press release published on February 14, the DCC announced that the new $20 million grant scheme will prioritize areas with high cannabis consumption but little to no access to legal cannabis retail.

The funding is intended to help local areas support equity applicants, conduct environmental reviews, cover personnel costs, and, ultimately, weaken California’s illicit cannabis market.

“Expanding access to California’s retail cannabis market is an important step towards protecting consumer safety and supporting a balanced market,” DCC Director Nicole Elliott said in a statement.

“The retail access grant program ultimately seeks to encourage legal retail operations in areas where existing consumers do not have convenient access to regulated cannabis.”

According to the DCC, a local jurisdiction will be eligible for funding if it doesn’t have any cannabis retail yet has a plan to develop such a retail program.

Funding will be distributed in two phases. Up to $10 million will be awarded as part of phase one on June 20 this year; at least $10 million more will be awarded on or after June 30.

The DCC will accept questions about the grant program until February 24; these questions can be emailed to grants@cannabis.ca.gov. The DCC will then begin accepting grant applications from March 10 to April 28.  


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