The California legislature has approved Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom’s $100 million plan to help legal cannabis businesses transition from temporary to permanent licenses, the Los Angeles Times reports. Under the plan, which is part of the State budget, cities and towns can apply for grants to help provisional licensees obtain the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) mandated environmental review needed for final license approval.
According to the report, as of April, 82% of California cannabis businesses hold temporary licenses.
Assemblyman Phil Ting (D), chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, said that despite the legalization of cannabis in the state five years ago, California has “yet to reach the goal” of a “well-regulated cannabis market.”
In addition to the grants, the governor is seeking a six-month extension to the January 1, 2022 deadline for temporary license holders to obtain the environmental review needed to upgrade to an annual license. The extension, which did not pass in the state budget with the grant proposal but remains in negotiations, is opposed by a coalition of seven environmental groups, including Sierra Club California, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Nature Conservancy. In a letter to Newsom, they called the proposal “wholly inadequate to protect local communities and the environment.”
On the other hand, industry leaders say the funds, although needed, are inadequate and may not help licensees, some of whom may still face years of red tape to obtain annual licenses.
President of the United Cannabis Business Association, Jerred Kiloh, told the Times that “it is a significant amount of money,” but, that he wasn’t sure “that it actually answers the problem of provisional licenses making it through CEQA analysis in a timely manner to get an annual license.”
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