DENVER — Sixteen businesses will receive Cannabis Business Pilot Grants through Colorado's Cannabis Business Office to foster equity and diversity in the industry.
The grants will help social equity cannabis businesses who are seeking or already have a regulated business license from the Marijuana Enforcement Division. Depending on if the business needs were considered "foundational" or "growth," the grants maxed out at $25,000 and $50,000, respectively.
The foundational category includes young businesses with one to five employees and an annual revenue of less than $500,000. The growth category includes businesses that have been in operation for more than one year with six to 15 employees and an annual revenue of $500,000 to $3,000,000, according to the grant page.
This is the first round of these grants.
The sixteen businesses include:
- Apollo Limited
- Colorado Kush
- Cb1 Logistics
- Different Strokes 2.0 Puff N Paint Sip Art Studio
- Flora Cannabis
- Go Harvest LLC
- Grn Bus
- IDY Packaging Distributors
- Kaylx Brands
- Meta-Zon CannClub
- Mile High Lounge (Ganja Games)
- Tetra Hospitality Group
All these businesses have already been awarded a social equity license to accelerate their growth.
In each application, the businesses outline how they would use the funds from the grants, including project overviews and costs. This could include anything from security system installations and upgrades, to hiring attorneys for operational agreements, to licensing fees, to new innovations geared toward social equity causes, according to the grant page.
The above businesses will provide documentation to the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade after six months and again after one year to detail how the grant money was, or is being, spent.
SB21-111, titled Program To Support Marijuana Entrepreneurs, established that some funds from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund would go to funding the Cannabis Business Office.
Hashim Coates, executive director of Black, Brown and Red Badged, an advocacy group for equity in the cannabis industry in Colorado, explained in May 2021 that Black and brown businesses represent less than 10% of the entire cannabis businesses statewide.
“As (much) as racism is intentional, equity must be as equally as intentional, if not more,” Coates said.
Colorado's Cannabis Business Office was created in July 2021. The office was authorized by legislation passed during the Legislature's 2021 session that provides an initial $4 million from the state's marijuana cash tax fund for its operations. According to the Associated Press, the office was created in part to provide microloans and grants for seed money for capital and business expenses, as well as planning advice and other support for business owners, especially in economically disadvantaged areas. In addition, it assists business owners, especially people of color, whose past marijuana arrests or convictions barred their entry into the industry, the AP reported.
A 2020 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that Black people in the United States are almost four times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite comparable usage, the AP reported. The study covered arrests from 2010 to 2018.
While this first round of the Cannabis Business Pilot Grants has closed, the state will introduce more later in 2022. Click here to learn more and to sign up for email updates.