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California's Cannabis Equity Program: What Is It and How to Qualify


    6 min Read
    The Team

    Despite the massive growth of the US cannabis market in recent years, the attitudes and laws regarding cannabis weren’t always so positive. Even less than a decade ago, many people were convicted of unjust crimes even for simply possessing small amounts of marijuana. These laws also affected families and communities of victims - some disproportionately so.

    Cannabis Equity Programs have now been introduced across various states to give back to those who were wronged. These programs aim to help those who were impacted by the War On Drugs by giving them opportunities in the legal cannabis industry. Here’s a guide to California’s Cannabis Equity Program, what it is, and how to qualify.

    What Are Cannabis Equity Programs?

    The legal marijuana market in the United States is booming. Not only do many patients now turn to medical dispensaries to help with everything from chronic pain to PTSD, but many states now allow adults aged 21 or over to buy marijuana for recreational purposes. The industry is now worth over USD 10.8 billion and is expected to grow steadily each year.

    Despite these positive changes, the US laws surrounding cannabis were rife with inequality in the past. Even in California - one of the most progressive states when it comes to cannabis laws - over 30,000 Californians are stuck with convictions for marijuana offenses. These unjust laws also affected families and communities across the state, as well as the country.

    Many cities across the United States have now introduced Cannabis Equity Programs as an attempt to right the wrongs. These programs aim to make it easier for those affected by unjust cannabis laws to open dispensaries and get involved in the legal cannabis industry. Many customers now choose to buy their weed from dispensaries involved in equity programs to support equality and inclusion.

    What Is California’s Cannabis Equity Program?

    California was the first ever state to legalize medical marijuana use under the Compassionate Use Act in 1996. It was also one of the first ten states to legalize recreational use with the Adult Use of Marijuana Act in 2016. Despite that, many people across the state have been impacted negatively by unfair drug laws in the past.

    In 2018, California introduced the Cannabis Equity Act, closely followed by the Budget Act of 2019. These acts aimed to fund and support cannabis equity across the state by giving opportunities to individuals and communities disproportionately affected by cannabis criminalization, making it easier for them to get involved in the legal cannabis industry.

    These programs focus on helping people convicted of cannabis offenses, their families, and their communities. Equity business owners can get their California cannabis business fees waived and receive extra support with opening a cannabis business. Grants are also available for cannabis equity businesses.

    Equity programs vary between cities but generally aim to make it easier and more financially viable for low-income participants and those convicted of cannabis offenses to open cannabis businesses or start their careers in the industry. Customers can also choose to buy from cannabis equity businesses to support their communities and promote equality and inclusion.

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    How To Qualify For California’s Cannabis Equity Program

    California’s Cannabis Equity Program helps certain individuals and groups with funding and resources for cannabis businesses. Each city has different requirements, but participants in equity programs usually need to meet at least two of the three following criteria to qualify:

    • They’re categorized as low income
    • They’ve previously been arrested or convicted due to cannabis prohibitions
    • They’ve lived in a Disproportionately Impacted Area defined by the government

    Specific requirements and classifications are set by each city’s local government. As such, it’s worth visiting each city’s government website to find out more about their equity program and whether you’re an eligible participant.

    State websites also allow business owners to apply for equity programs by filling out an application and providing relevant documentation. For instance, you can apply to Oakland’s cannabis equity program via the City of Oakland website.

    How Can Customers Support The Cannabis Equity Program

    The Cannabis Equity Program doesn’t just help cannabis business owners, entrepreneurs, and investors. Customers may also want to help by contributing to businesses operating under the Cannabis Equity Program.

    Many customers choose to buy from dispensaries that support cannabis equity brands or dispensaries opened via cannabis equity programs. This ensures your money goes toward supporting impacted communities and helping promote equality and opportunities for those that have dealt with cannabis convictions.

    In addition to dispensaries, many operators, cultivators, and even cannabis delivery services have been funded by equity programs. Many of these businesses also give back by promoting inclusion and partnering with charities that support the freedom of cannabis prisoners.

    Buy From A California Cannabis Equity Dispensary

    Rose Mary Jane is a unique cannabis retailer with a commitment to helping cannabis prisoners, supporting social equity, helping local non-profits, and providing valuable career opportunities for team members. By working with cannabis equity brands and charities such as the Last Prisoner Project and the Women’s Prison Association, they aim to promote positivity in the industry.

    At our Oakland cannabis dispensary, you can find the largest cannabis equity menu in California. Rose Mary Jane specifically works with brands that align with its views and purposes, many of which are operated by women, LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and social equity companies. As such, customers who support equity programs can feel comfortable when buying.

    Rose Mary Jane’s menu offers a selection of high-quality cannabis products made by social equity brands. This includes a range of cannabis strains, concentrates, edibles, vapes, CBD products, and more. Not only that, but you’ll benefit from world-class service with a dedication to helping every customer with their unique needs.

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    The California Cannabis Equity Program aims to help those disproportionately impacted by unjust cannabis laws. Affected parties can now obtain grants, resources, and support for opening cannabis businesses, getting jobs in the industry, and helping their communities recover and thrive.

    If you want to support cannabis equity programs, you can do so by buying from retailers that support inclusion and equality in the industry. Rose Mary Jane supports local charities and offers the largest menu of equity brands in California. You can visit our Lake Merritt, Oakland cannabis dispensary or check out our website to find out more.

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