California Launches Grant Program to Expand Retail Cannabis Access

California cannabis regulators have launched a $20 million grant program aimed at expanding consumer access to licensed cannabis products.

Full story after the jump.

The California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) last week launched a $20 million grant program to expand consumer access to regulated cannabis, which the agency is calling “a national first-of-its-kind.”

The grant will prioritize areas where national surveys find high cannabis consumption but have little to no access to cannabis retailers, the DCC said in a press release. The program “seeks to incentivize local best practices by prioritizing programs that support equity operators and utilize existing licensing and permitting practices,” the agency said.

In a statement, DCC Director Nicole Elliott called expanding access to retail cannabis sales “an important step towards protecting consumer safety and supporting a balanced market.”

“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.” — Elliott in a statement

The DCC indicates that more than 60% of California jurisdictions do not offer local licensing for adult-use cannabis sales and that the grants “can provide much-needed assistance to cities and counties.”

The DCC said that of the 33 counties in California that currently do not offer cannabis licenses, there are nine where the rates of cannabis consumption are substantial despite only having zero or one licensed retailer. In four of the nine counties – Butte, Glenn, Madera, and Sutter – there are no licensed cannabis retailers.

Localities can use the funds to support equity applicants and licensees, for environmental reviews, permitting expenses, and personnel costs. The agency will initially award up to $10 million in grants by June 20, 2023 and after June 30, 2023, an additional $10 million will be available to previous awardees as they issue licenses.

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