Colorado lawmakers have approved a bill for social equity licensing in the cannabis industry and allows the governor to pardon low-level cannabis convictions that were levied in the state prior to 2012’s legalization, Westword reports.
The bill enables the industry to move forward on an accelerator licensing program passed last year by Coloradans last year. The accelerator program provides mentorship opportunities and financial investments for would-be industry entrepreneurs. The measure would also enable the city of Denver to move forward with its social equity goals. Last year, Coloradans also passed social consumption and delivery bills and the bill passed June 15 will allow for social equity licensees to also apply.
A spokesperson for Gov. Jared Polis (D) called the bill “a product of effective stakeholder work that created a path forward on important social equity policies.”
Cannabis activist and entrepreneur, Larisa Bolivar, who is executive director of the Cannabis Consumers Coalition and CEO of Bolivar Hemp Company, called the bill’s passage “a double win.”
“I know we can have a successful social equity program and the state can now make rules around grant and loan money from marijuana tax revenues. … “And, I can help along the way from outreach, to training, to internship and placed into management positions or successfully open up their own licensed cannabis shop.” – Bolivar in a press release
A study released earlier this month found 75 percent of Denver’s cannabusiness owners were white, along with 13 percent Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish. Another 12 percent of the industry’s employees identified as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish. Just 6 percent of both cannabis business owners and employees were Black, according to the report outlined by MJBizDaily.
If the bill is approved by Polis – which is expected – Colorado’s social equity licenses should be available starting next year.