California Approves $100m Weed Grants

Cannabis grow in Humboldt County, CA. Photo: Shutterstock

In a turn of events that nobody would have imagined 15 years ago, the state of California is about to offer $100 million to marijuana growers and sellers to help them stay in business.

The California legislature approved the plan Monday, which will see grants go to cannabis businesses that are trying to convert their provisional licenses to permanent ones.

The difficulty of that process has resulted in roughly 82% of licensees holding provisional licenses, but unable to afford the cost and time investment in finalizing them. Governor Gavin Newsom also has proposed a separate six-month extension of the deadline for converting those licenses.

California voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016, but the number of licensed shops has fallen far short of what officials expected. Instead, unlicensed dealers have continued to thrive. A recent estimate put the number of illegal dealers at triple that of licensed ones.

That’s because of a number of factors, including high taxes on legalized weed, the difficulty of meeting environmental regulations, and the fact that many cities do not allow dispensaries to operate within their boundaries.

The money won’t go directly to marijuana sellers, but rather to local agencies that have the largest number of provisional licenses. (Los Angeles, for example, will get roughly $22 million in funds.) Some cities also will be able to use the cash to offer equity funding to cannabis operations owned by people of color.

Beyond Los Angeles, the money will be split among Long Beach, San Francisco, Oakland, Commerce, Adelanto, and Desert Hot Springs.