The State of California provides more than $15 million in grants to nearly a dozen cities and counties with social justice programs, including California. The goal is to allow minorities and people who are victims of the failed war on drugs to participate in the state’s legal cannabis market. This allocation is in addition to the $40 million the state has already allocated for the same purpose. But will it really make a difference?

Our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers know that many cannabis entrepreneurs who have sought this help have felt that the Los Angeles government, in particular, has not paid them any attention. Our goal is to help these companies build a solid foundation by creating viable business plans that are not only profitable, but also legally sound.

As detailed in a recent L.A. Times article, Los Angeles politicians have pledged to help those most affected by marijuana prohibition through a social justice program that targets low-income people who have already been arrested for marijuana possession and who live in areas disproportionately affected by marijuana prohibition laws. But some complain that there is not enough local support. The city issued permits to some long-standing marijuana businesses that met the city’s requirements, but newer retailers operating under the equity program were not granted expedited permits.

In the end, in many cases, it hurt the very people the program was supposed to help, because they had to spend the money on empty storefronts. The city’s last round of permits required applicants for the social justice program to already have a store or rental property.

Hundreds of applicants rushed to submit their applications for the fall 2019 semester, but this has led to an ongoing debate about the fairness of the contest. After a judicial review and settlement, the city is now ready to issue permits for 200 new storefronts, all of which are eligible for the social justice program.

It is uncertain when this will actually be the case. The Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation has admitted to being delayed by the pandemic, resulting in a reduction in recruitment, contracts and services. Disputes over previously submitted applications have also hampered them to some extent, as has bureaucracy, the Times reports, but officials insist they are doing everything in their power to speed up the approval and support process. The city currently has nine staff members reviewing hundreds of applications.

Still, officials can’t help but recognize that marijuana-related tax revenue is expected to increase by nearly 80 percent this fiscal year. This could, of course, offset the administrative costs.

But another potential problem has surfaced for many social investment entrepreneurs who are aggressive investors. Some complain that these sharks are trying to keep out social equality seekers. It is imperative that anyone involved in the cannabis industry and evaluating business proposals or contracts consult an experienced Los Angeles marijuana lawyer. Investors not only have their own place (sometimes necessary), but also their own interests – not yours. It is very important that you are assisted by counsel in these negotiations.

Your legal agreements should be properly vetted to ensure that your business interests are protected.

In 2020, the local cannabis regulatory agency received $5 million from the city. The project was funded with $1.5 million to support operations, permitting and regulatory compliance. However, training for these programs is still ongoing. The department also received $7.8 million from the state, most of which is earmarked for equity program applicants. These benefits are scheduled to be distributed this month.

Now, after the latest round of grants, the department will receive another $2 million for social justice.

The Los Angeles-based CANNABIS LAW group represents manufacturers, dispensaries, suppliers, patients, physicians and individuals facing marijuana-related charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional resources :

L.A.’s social justice pledge for marijuana businesses has been painfully slow for entrepreneurs, March 20, 2021, Emily Alpert Reyes, Los Angeles Times

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