City Awarded $4.5 Million to Support Equity Program and Further Support Cannabis Business Owners
Funding will allow Office of Cannabis to distribute flexible grants to equity businesses and combat disparities in the industry
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed and the Office of Cannabis (OOC) today announced the City has received $4.5 million in State funding to enhance OOC’s Cannabis Equity Grant Program to support social equity applicants open businesses in San Francisco. The funding, which was provided by the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, will help build on the Program’s original goal to combat disparities in the cannabis industry through the establishment of equity cannabis businesses.
“COVID-19 had a significant impact on our city’s small businesses and entrepreneurs, including those in the cannabis industry,” said Mayor Breed. “With the assistance from the State and leadership at the Office of Cannabis, this funding will ensure that the Cannabis Equity Grant Program continues to achieve its goal of providing access to the industry for those who have been disproportionally affected by past policies.”
Since the establishment of the Cannabis Equity Grant Program in February 2021, OOC has distributed over $5.5 million in flexible grant funding to more than 50 equity businesses, with awards ranging from about $50,000 to $150,000. Of the grant recipients, 65% identify as people of color, strengthening access to communities that have historically been harmed by past policies and the War on Drugs. OOC has worked diligently to ensure that all available funding is used for the benefit of applicants, with 100% of the grants being awarded before the expiration of the grant term.
Additionally, five community organizations have received State funding to provide free technical assistance to equity applicants and their businesses including, permit and grant support, workforce development services, and business development services.
“From a historical lens, the Equity Grant Program represents government proactively addressing drug policies that have harmed our communities,” said Nikesh Patel, director of the San Francisco Office of Cannabis. “We hear from social equity applicants just how powerful these grants are to advance their businesses. We take pride in continuing to develop a program that includes community input, meets applicants’ needs, and ultimately reduces barriers to entering the cannabis industry.”
The Cannabis Equity Grant Program is structured to allow grantees the ability to determine the best use of their award. Grantees may seek grant reimbursements and/or grant advancements for 13 eligible expense categories including, accounting services, capital improvements, legal assistance, regulatory compliance, and rent, among others. Moreover, grantees may leverage free technical assistance to better support them through this process.
OOC administers grants for equity applicants, who are individuals that meet criteria based on residency, income, criminal justice involvement, and housing insecurity.
“The Office of Cannabis Grant Program provides vital support and opportunity to social equity applicants to start their own businesses in the regulated cannabis industry. As a San Francisco native from the Fillmore District, and a women of color, my community has disproportionately been affected by the War on Drugs. I would like to thank the Office of Cannabis for this unprecedented opportunity to reach my dreams and I couldn’t be more grateful,” said Joyce Hicks, CEO, Neicey Pieces LLC.
“The Office of Cannabis Grant Program provided me with an opportunity to open my own retail store. It’s helped me tremendously, not only as a social equity partner, but also as a long-standing member of the San Francisco community who seeks to uplift those who’ve also been hurt by the War on Drugs,” said Rudy Corpuz, CEO, SGI Brannan LLC.
“As I seek to establish my own cannabis business, I’ve learned that not all money is good money. However, when it comes to the San Francisco Equity Program, cannabis grants provided me with an opportunity to not only establish my own cannabis company, but to potentially realize generational wealth for me and my family,” said Perry Jones, CEO, Cali Heals.
In May 2022, an additional $2 million in grants will be available to eligible grantees. For individuals interested in learning more about the Cannabis Equity Grant Program, please visit here.
Office of Cannabis
The Mission of the San Francisco Office of Cannabis is to rectify the negative effects of the War on Drugs by: promoting opportunities for verified equity applicants; permitting the commercial cannabis industry; supporting both medical and adult-use cannabis businesses; reducing the illegal market for cannabis; protecting and promoting the health of the public; limiting youth access and exposure to cannabis; and enforcing Article 16 of the San Francisco Police Code.
San Francisco Cannabis Oversight Committee
The San Francisco Cannabis Oversight Committee, an advisory body has played an important role in representing and shaping the City’s diverse and growing cannabis industry. Reflecting a variety of stakeholders, the Oversight Committee created a transparent space for the public and representatives of local government to gather, listen, and collectively steer the direction of the legalized cannabis industry in San Francisco.