Business

Colorado Marijuana Businesses Receive Social Equity Grants

Jacqueline Collins
A handful of marijuana businesses are set to receive grants from Colorado's new Cannabis Business Office as part of a state-funded pilot program intended to spur social equity in the pot industry.

Part of the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade, the Cannabis Business Office was created to help entrepreneurs who were negatively impacted by the drug war and to increase diversity in Colorado's pot industry. According to a new report from the state Marijuana Enforcement Division, 18.2 percent of the state's marijuana business owners and 33.1 percent of employees in the business identify as minorities.

Because the plant is still federally prohibited, small-business owners often struggle to secure lines of credit, loans and other financial services from banks and credit unions. Financed by state marijuana tax revenue, the program has about $1 million allocated for grants and $2.5 million for low-interest micro-loans, according to Cannabis Business Office program manager Tristan Watkins.

The first round of funding will be grants, according to a joint announcement from OEDIT and Governor Jared Polis's office, with sixteen businesses selected. The majority of them focus on delivery and hospitality. The list:
  • Apollo Limited
  • Canna-Couriers
  • Colorado Kush
  • Cb1 Logistics
  • Delta-9
  • 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)
  • Paly
  • Pufflow.com
  • Tetra Hospitality Group
To be eligible, applicants had to be able to match the grant amounts with their own funding and already have a social equity marijuana business license in Colorado, which requires one of the following: They or their families were arrested on certain drug charges, they earn less than 50 percent of the state median income, or they come from a community designated as a low-economic opportunity zone. Applicants also had to complete a state-approved technical assistance program and submit a business proposal as part of the process.

The size of the grants is based on business maturity, according to OEDIT, with smaller businesses still in their foundational phases eligible for up to $25,000 and established businesses looking to grow eligible for up to $50,000; grant amounts weren't shared by OEDIT. Under the terms of the program, recipients must submit six-month and one-year progress reports on how their funding was applied.

While more grants and loans will be issued, the next round of applications is not yet open, according to OEDIT.
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Thomas Mitchell has written about all things cannabis for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate and general news along the way for publications such as the Arizona Republic, Inman and Fox Sports. He's currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.
Contact: Thomas Mitchell