The Complete Guide to Social Equity Programs for Dispensaries

SEP HEADER

The US cannabis industry is projected to be worth $100 billion by 2030, yet those most affected by the War on Drugs face significant barriers to entry.

US Senate candidate Gary Chambers' campaign ad "37 Seconds" breaks down the data on cannabis criminalization.

According to a 2021 report from Marijuana Business Daily, the percentage of executive positions held by women and minorities in cannabis fell to 30% and 13%, respectively.

To combat this, programs focused on social equity have become a crucial resource to help marginalized communities participate in the legal cannabis industry.

What is Social Equity?

Social equity is impartiality, fairness and justice for all people in social policy. Social equity takes into account systemic inequalities to ensure everyone in a community has access to the same opportunities and outcomes. Equity of all kinds acknowledges that inequalities exist and works to eliminate them.

This guide to Social Equity Programs for dispensaries provides details on each program, both state-level and private, as well as who qualifies and how to apply. First, we’ll outline the nationwide programs, primarily offered by cannabis tech providers. Then we’ll dive into state-specific social equity programs.

Want to add a Social Equity Program to this list?

Let us know so we can include it!

Nationwide Social Equity Programs

While states are trying to tackle more local Social Equity challenges, many companies are lending support through their own Social Equity Programs. These private companies are stepping up to support others in the cannabis space.

National Social Equity Programs

Curio Wellness

About the program

Curio Wellness’ funding program provides start-up capital for minority business owners to open their own Curio Wellness franchise location.

Who is eligible?

Women, minorities, and disabled veterans may apply for start-up capital through the Curio Wellness Investment Fund to secure funds needed to open their own franchise location in MD, VA, PA, OH, MO, NJ, FL, MA, MI, and IL.

How to apply

You can apply for Curio Wellness’ fund through this link.

Dispense

About the program

Dispense's Social Equity Program includes discount pricing for their cannabis e-commerce software to expand accessibility. The goal of the Dispense Social Equity Program is to support equal opportunity in the cannabis industry for companies, brands, dispensaries and – ultimately – people.

Who is eligible?

Your cannabis business is eligible for our Dispense's Social Equity Program if:

  • You are part of an underrepresented group, such as a minority-owned, woman-owned, or service-disabled veteran-owned business.
  • You are holding an existing social equity license that is designated by a state agency.
  • You have been previously convicted for marijuana-related charges or negatively impacted by the War on Drugs.

How to apply

Apply for Dispense's Social Equity Program by filling out an application here.

Eaze

About the program

Momentum is a business accelerator program by Eaze designed to support and empower underrepresented founders.

Momentum participants receive a $50,000 grant to help them navigate the high costs of doing business and lay a strong foundation for future success. Unlike many investment vehicles, the Momentum grant takes no equity from program participants.

Who is eligible?

Eaze is looking for businesses that are beyond concept. Businesses that are operating and looking to grow are encouraged to apply to Momentum.

Licensing requirements:

  • Cannabis businesses must have a valid license issued by their state, state regulatory agency, and any other relevant licensing entities.

EXCEPTION: If you have applied for a local and/or state commercial cannabis license, which has not yet been issued by overseeing regulatory agency, you are still eligible for the accelerator, provided that you do not engage in commercial cannabis activities prior to the issuance of all applicable licenses. Applicants must upload a completed local and/or state commercial cannabis license application, proof of receipt of the license application by the respective agency, and/or any other evidence relevant to the application process. Proof of application includes, but is not limited to, your full license application, as submitted, or an acknowledgment of receipt of such application issued by the applicable licensing agency.

  • Hemp-derived CBD businesses must source all your hemp from an entity that is part of the federal hemp pilot program and must be licensed by your local Department of Agriculture (CA exempt).

  • Ancillary businesses must have a local business license in the jurisdiction where they operate.

  • Applicants should be prepared to upload a copy of all license(s) for verification.

How to apply

Momentum applications can be submitted at this link. Note that 2022 applications are currently closed, but check back regularly for new openings.

Flourish

About the program

Flourish’s Social Equity Program offers their seed-to-sale technology platform to social equity users for $420 a year for up to two licenses.

Who is eligible?

To qualify for this program, you need to meet the below conditions:

  • Designation as a Social Equity license through a state agency or, if not available, conviction of a cannabis offense or conviction of an immediate family member for a cannabis offense prior to state legalization, without selling to minors and without a violent crime record.

  • Licensed for less than five years.

  • Revenue < $1 million.

How to apply

To apply for Flourish’s Social Equity Program, fill out this form.

Flowhub

About the program

The Flowhub Social Equity Program removes hurdles to entry for underrepresented entrepreneurs who dream of running a dispensary business. To date, the program has provided over $5M in free software to support underrepresented dispensary owners.

Eligible social equity business owners will receive:

  • Flowhub POS software at the special price of $4.20 per month for one location, up to 3 years or until cumulative sales exceed $100,000

  • Two free Nug Pro software subscriptions (Greet and Stash apps)

  • Free View app

  • Discounted $100 implementation fee

In order to sustain this program and allow for new entrants, pricing tiers were introduced as of July 2022. These tiers are meant to help social equity business owners ease the process of sparking up their cannabis retail business.

Once eligible participants have demonstrated strong business traction by exceeding $100,000 in cumulative sales through Flowhub, they will graduate to the next Social Equity Program tier at the cost of $420 per month. Once cumulative sales exceed $250,000, they will fully graduate from the Social Equity Program to standard Flowhub POS pricing.

Who is eligible?

To be considered for the Flowhub Social Equity Program, you must meet one or more of the following eligibility criteria:

  • Your store ownership is part of an underrepresented group within the cannabis industry. Examples include but are not limited to minority-owned, woman-owned, or service-disabled veteran-owned dispensaries.
  • Your store ownership has had previous marijuana convictions and/or has been negatively impacted by the War on Drugs prior to state legalization, without selling to minors and without a violent crime record.
  • Your store holds an existing social equity license designated by a state agency.

Additionally, applicants must:

  • Be a new Flowhub customer
  • Have a legal dispensary license in a Flowhub-supported market
  • Have majority ownership in the cannabis business

How to apply

We recommend reviewing the application questions and preparing your responses in a separate document before submitting.

We will notify you of your status within 3-5 weeks.

If you think you may qualify, apply and let us know why!

Meadow

About the program

Meadow’s Safe (Simple Agreement for Future Equity) was created by startup accelerator Y Combinator (YC) in 2013 to standardize and streamline early-stage fundraising for startups.

Who is eligible?

Safe may not be suitable for all businesses, investors and financing situations. Founders and investors are encouraged to have their own attorneys review the agreement if they would like to.

The cannabis safe outlines standardized financing terms that can be adapted for many early-stage commercial cannabis businesses. Anyone can download the cannabis safe for free and adapt it for their company.

Download the Cannabis Safe

Cannabis Safe: Valuation Cap (No Discount)

Cannabis Safe: Discount (No Valuation Cap)

Cannabis Safe: Valuation Cap AND Discount

NuProject

About the program

NuProject has capital for growth-stage businesses through their NuFuel Loan Program. Established in 2018, NuProject has been helping Black, Indigenous, and Latinx entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry fuel their dreams with business support, a network, and access to capital.

They use character-based lending practices to help businesses access the capital needed to grow and report to Equifax for the opportunity to build business credit.

Who is eligible?

NuFuel lending criteria is as follows:

  • Your business must be licensed

  • Your business must be at least 51% BIPOC owned

  • Your business must be in operation for at least 12 months

  • You must include current P+L and tax returns

How to apply
  1. Complete the contact form for NuProject making note of your interest in 'NuFuel' lending.

  2. You will be contacted to schedule an initial meeting to discuss your funding needs.

  3. After meeting if determined that applying for a NuFuel loan is something you still want to pursue the NuProject team will provide you with an application to start the process.

Note: applying does not guarantee funding.

The Parent Company

About the program

With an initial funding of $10 million, plus 2% of all future net income, The Parent Company's Social Equity Fund seeks to discover the industry’s future entrepreneurs of color, offering them the capital and mentorship necessary to build generational wealth as part of a more equitable and diverse cannabis industry.

Led by Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter and Desiree Perez, this fund identifies and invests in the next generation of cannabis business leaders who are building value for their communities and diversity for our industry.

Social Equity Ventures will also leverage the operational leadership of The Parent Company to help drive the success of these portfolio companies.

Who is eligible?

The Parent Company's website mentions that the fund was established for Black and other minority entrepreneurs.

How to apply

To be considered for funding, fill out this submission form. The SEV team reviews every business plan. Due to the high volume of submissions, they may take a few weeks to get back to you.

RMCC

About the program

RMCC's Social Equity Incubator Program includes:

  • Monthly coaching

  • Foundational operation-specific self-led training

  • Certification program material self-led training

  • Operating plan review

The training focuses on Metrc record retention and best practices.

Approved applicants will have access to the program for one year and are not eligible to re-enter the program later.

Who is eligible?

Eligibility requires applicants who are currently licensed or applying for a cannabis business license and qualified for their state's "social equity" status. The application process requires you to upload documentation proving licensure and status.

How to apply

Applications will be open within Q1 2022. Currently, applications are closed and individuals can join the waitlist. Be prepared to answer personal and business information, provide documentation of your licensure and social equity status, and describe your commitment to the program.

Join the waitlist here.

Weedmaps

About the program

Weedmaps is providing tools designed to support entrepreneurs as they enter the cannabis marketplace. They are currently offering a range of software and professional support items, with additional support to follow.

Who is eligible?

Licensed Social Equity cannabis business owners qualify for this program.

How to apply

To apply for Weedmaps’ Social Equity Program, fill out this form.

State-by-state Social Equity Programs

Each state contains a unique cannabis market. Within those markets, various Social Equity Programs are becoming available. Some are run by state and local governments and others are run by private entities.

Arizona Social Equity Programs

Arizona Department of Health Services

About the program

The Arizona Department of Health Services social equity ownership program is intended to promote the ownership and operation of licensed Marijuana Establishments by individuals from communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of previous marijuana laws.

Additionally, social equity license holders will be required to develop and implement policies to document how the Marijuana Establishment will provide a benefit to one or more communities disproportionately affected by the enforcement of Arizona’s previous marijuana laws.

The Department adopted rules that include eligibility requirements for social equity applicants on June 1, 2021. Please visit the Adult-Use Marijuana Rulemaking page for more information. A copy of the current rules is available on the Statutes & Rules page.

All applications received will be reviewed for administrative and substantive completeness. Applications deemed substantively complete will be entered into a random selection, which will be used to issue the 26 available social equity licenses. The random selection will likely take place in Spring 2022.

Who is eligible?

One or more of the principal officers or board members of the applying entity holding an aggregate of at least 51% ownership in the entity must meet three (3) of the following four (4) criteria:

  1. Had an annual household income, as defined in A.A.C. R9-6-401, in at least three of the years 2016 through 2020 that, for the respective year, was less than 400% of the poverty level, as defined in A.A.C. R9-6-401, as shown by:
    • The applicable portion of an income tax return submitted to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service by the individual or an adult in the individual’s household, as defined for the individual in A.A.C. R9-6-401, for the applicable tax year; or

    • If a copy of the applicable portion of an income tax return is not available, a transcript of the income tax return from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service; or

    • If neither the individual nor an adult in the individual’s household was required to file an income tax return for an applicable year, documentation showing the amount and source of all monetary payments received by the individual and each adult in the individual’s household for the applicable tax year

  2. Has been adversely affected by the enforcement of previous marijuana laws because the individual:
    • Has been granted expungement pursuant to A.R.S. § 36-2862, as demonstrated by a copy of the expungement issued by the prosecuting state or jurisdiction; or

    • Was convicted in Arizona of a violation of federal or state law related to marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia, as demonstrated by a copy of the court’s conviction document issued by the prosecuting state or jurisdiction.

  3. Has been adversely affected by the enforcement of previous marijuana laws because the individual is related, as one of the following, to another individual who was convicted in Arizona of a violation of federal or state laws related to marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia, or is or was eligible for expungement pursuant to A.R.S. § 36-2862, as demonstrated by court documents for the other individual issued by the prosecuting state or jurisdiction:
    • Spouse

    • Surviving Spouse

    • Parent

    • Child

    • Sibling

    • Legal Guardian

  4. Has lived for at least three of the years 2016 through 2020 at a physical address in an area that has been identified by the Department as being disproportionately affected by the enforcement of Arizona’s previous marijuana laws.

How to apply

In order to be deemed substantively complete and eligible for the random selection, an application must meet all of the requirements outlined in A.A.C. R9-18-303.

Below are a few key points about the general application requirements:

  • Application must list each individual who is a principal officer or board member of the applying entity, according to A.A.C. R9-18-301.

  • No one can be a principal officer or board member on more than two applications.

  • Each principal officer or board member must attest that they do not have an excluded felony offense, as defined in A.R.S. §36-2801.

  • At least 51% ownership of the applying entity must belong to principal officer(s) or board member(s) who have documentation of completing a department required training course and who meet at least 3 out of the 4 social equity eligibility requirements.
    • Attestations must be provided confirming that these individuals cannot be removed from their positions without their written consent or a court order.

Sign up for the mailing list to receive updates about future dispensary allocations.

Social Equity Partners

About the program

Social Equity Partners was established to assist Arizona residents convicted of non-violent cannabis felonies to apply for adult-use marijuana dispensary and cultivation establishment licenses through the Social Equity Program. With the passage of Prop 207, 26 licenses are allocated for those directly impacted by cannabis prohibition.

Social Equity Partners’ goal is to offer Arizona residents with cannabis convictions comprehensive support in receiving a license and establishing a cannabis business through the Social Equity Program.

Social Equity Partners offers a 51/49 partnership and will assist with funding and the application process, ensuring you maintain majority share of your dispensary, including application costs and verifying available capital to increase the chances of a resident with a felony conviction erecting one of the 26 available Social Equity Program licenses.

Who is eligible?

This program is meant to help local Arizona residents to grow a dispensary business. To find out if you qualify, fill out an application.

How to apply

Any individual seeking to partner with Social Equity Partners (SEP) is required to submit personal information regarding their eligibility for consideration. By submitting an application, you agree to provide truthful responses for their screening process. Fill out the application here.


California Social Equity Programs

City of Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation Social Equity Program

About the program

The Mission of the Social Equity Program is “to promote equitable ownership and employment opportunities in the cannabis industry in order to decrease disparities in life outcomes for marginalized communities, and to address the disproportionate impacts of the War on Drugs in those communities.”

The City of Los Angeles has been awarded approximately $7.8 million to provide direct assistance to equity applicants and equity licensees in the Social Equity Program. Find updates on the program here.

The program provides services such as:

  • Application processing

  • Business, license, and compliance assistance

  • Fee deferral program

  • Pro bono legal services

  • Seed grant program

Who is eligible?

In order to participate in certain SEP programming, a Social Equity Individual Applicant must have the requisite Equity Share and meet other related requirements established in LAMC Sections 104.20(a)(2) or 104.20(b)(2). A Social Equity Individual Applicant is required to comply with Equity Share requirements before a License is issued or renewed.

How to apply

Click here to view the Social Equity Program.

City of Long Beach

About the program

The Equity Program is designed to support equal opportunity in the cannabis industry by making legal cannabis business ownership and employment opportunities more accessible to low-income individuals and communities most impacted by the criminalization of cannabis.

Individuals who qualify for the Equity Program and want to open a cannabis business in the City of Long Beach are eligible to receive the following assistance to help navigate the City's cannabis application process:

  • Access to application workshops

  • Fee waivers

  • Direct grants

  • Expedited application and facility plan check review

  • Cultivation tax deferrals

  • Direct Technical Assistance (Coming Soon)

Who is eligible?

To qualify as an Equity Applicant, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Apply as a person, not a company

  • In the last year, your annual family income was at or below 80% Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale (LA County) Area Median Income (AMI). Your annual family income is adjusted for family size. See information on income limits.

  • Have a net worth below $250,000

  • Satisfy at least 1 of the following 2 criteria:
    • Have lived in a Long Beach census tract for a minimum of 3 years where at least 51% of current residents have a household income at or below 80% of the Los Angeles Area Median Income. Check out this interactive map.

    • Was arrested or convicted for a crime relating to the sale, possession, use, or cultivation of cannabis in the City of Long Beach prior to November 8, 2016 that could have been prosecuted as a misdemeanor or citation under California law.

How to apply

Submit a Cannabis Social Equity Program Verification Form along with supporting documentation to the Office of Cannabis Oversight (OCO).

Individuals who qualify as Equity Applicants will receive a verification letter from the OCO, verifying their status as an Equity Applicant.

To qualify as an Equity Business, Equity Applicants must have a minimum of 51% ownership of the business applying for an Adult-Use Cannabis Business License. The requirement can be met by one or multiple Equity Applicants collectively.

Complete a Verification of Equity Business Ownership Form to be included with your Adult-Use Cannabis Business License Application. All owners of the business must sign and verify that the business meets this requirement.

To apply for an adult-use cannabis business license, please complete the following steps:

  1. Determine the type of adult-use cannabis business license you want to apply for. For more information, please visit the Adult-Use Cannabis Business Licenses webpage.

  2. Submit a Cannabis Business License Application to the following address:

  • Long Beach City Hall, Business License Division, 411 W. Ocean Blvd., 6th Floor, Long Beach, CA 90802

PLEASE NOTE: To apply as an Equity Business, the following requirements/documents must be included in your cannabis business license application:

  • On page 1 of the application, under Section B - Application Type, select adult-use

  • On page 1 of the application, under Section D - Equity Status Information, select "Yes", you are applying as an Equity Business and attach the following documentation:
    • Verification letter issued by the Office of Cannabis Oversight

    • Verification of Equity Business Ownership Form

For more information on the City's cannabis business license process, please visit the Cannabis Business Information webpage.

The National Diversity & Inclusion Cannabis Alliance (NDICA)

About the program

The National Diversity and Inclusion Cannabis Alliance (NDICA) is the only cannabis-based non-profit that is a qualified vendor for the City of LA’s Social Equity Business Development Program. The groups assists individuals in the following areas:

  • Priority Processing

  • Technical Assistance

  • Fee Deferral Program

  • Business Licensing & Compliance (BLC)

  • Hemp & Cannabis Licensing Application assistance

Who is eligible?

The program is broken down into three tiers.

To qualify as a Tier 1 Social Equity Applicant, you must be able to demonstrate that you have a low income AND a prior California cannabis conviction, or low income AND at least 5 years cumulative residency in a disproportionately impacted area.

A Tier 2 Social Equity Applicant shall meet the following criteria at time of applying for a License:

  • Low Income and a minimum of five years cumulative residency in a Disproportionately Impacted Area

  • A minimum of 10 years cumulative residency in a Disproportionately Impacted Area. A Tier 2 Social Equity Applicant shall own no less than a 33 1/3 percent equity share of the business that would benefit from the issuance of the License.

A Tier 3 Social Equity Applicant shall enter into a Social Equity Agreement with the City to provide capital, leased space, business, licensing and compliance assistance to Persons who meet the criteria to be a Tier 1 or Tier 2 Social Equity Applicant.

A Tier 3 Social Equity Applicant shall provide Tier 1 Social Equity Applicants access to property with no rent and with prorated utilities for a minimum of two years.

How to apply

To apply or inquire about qualifications, contact the NDICA.

City of Oakland

About the program

In the Spring of 2017, the City Council enacted an Equity Permit Program that addresses disparities in the cannabis industry by prioritizing the victims of the war on drugs, and minimizing barriers of entry into the industry.

The program offers numerous services through partnerships, these include:

Who is eligible?

The Equity Permit Program described under OMC 5.80.045 and OMC 5.81.060 defines an “Equity Applicant” as an Applicant whose ownership/owner:

1. Is an Oakland resident; and

2. Has an annual income at or less than 80 percent of Oakland Average Medium Income (AMI) adjusted for household size; and

  • $73,100 for a one-person household

  • $83,550 for a two-person household

  • $94,400 for a three-person household

  • $104,000 for a four-person household

  • $112,800 for a five-person household

  • $121,150 for a six-person household

  • $129,500 for a seven-person household

  • $137,850 for an eight-person household

3. Either

(i) has lived in any combination of Oakland police beats 2X, 2Y, 6X, 7X, 19X, 21X, 21Y, 23X, 26Y, 27X, 27Y, 29X, 30X, 30Y, 31Y, 32X, 33X, 34X, 5X, 8X and 35X for at least ten of the last twenty years

Police Beat Locator Map: http://oakgis.maps.arcgis.com/...

OR

(ii) was arrested after November 5, 1996 and convicted of a cannabis crime committed in Oakland.

How to apply

For more information on how to apply for Oakland Social Equity Programs, or to see if you qualify, contact the City of Oakland.

City of San Francisco

About the program

San Francisco’s Cannabis Equity Program is designed to lower barriers to cannabis licensing for those hardest hit by the War on Drugs. The Equity Program does this by enabling verified Equity Applicants to apply for a cannabis permit in 2018.

In addition, Equity Applicants do not have to pay the $5,000 permit fee. They can also benefit from an incubator partnership that provides rent-free space for 3 years or technical assistance to run their business.

Who is eligible?

To qualify as an Equity Applicant you must:

  • apply as a person, not a company

  • have net assets below established limits for each household. This means you will not qualify as an Equity Applicant if your 1 person household has net assets over $193,500. See Equity verification requirements for asset limits of larger households.

  • be one of the following:
    • the business owner

    • own at least 40% of the business and be the CEO

    • own at least 51% of the business

    • a board member of a non-profit cannabis business where most of the board also qualify as Equity Applicants

    • an individual with a membership interest in a cannabis business formed as a cooperative

How to apply

To become a Social Equity Applicant, you must complete the following steps:

  • Check to see if you meet the eligibility criteria.

  • Get verified as an Equity Applicant.

  • If verified as an Equity Applicant, you’ll receive a unique Equity Applicant ID number.

  • Determine what ownership percentage and role you intend to hold. The Office of Cannabis will need to verify this submitted information as part of the application review process.

  • Partner with an incubator business if you want, following the rules for incubation.

  • Use the Cannabis Business Permit Application (part 1) Checklist to gather all the required documentation for your application.

  • The Office of Cannabis will send you a link for part 1 of the permit application. You’ll need to use your unique Equity Applicant ID number to apply.

  • Apply for a Cannabis Business Permit (part 1).

For more information on equity incubation, email officeofcannabis@sfgov.org

City of Coachella

About the program

The Cannabis Social Equity Program (“Program”) will reduce the barriers of entry and participation for applicants and businesses that have been negatively impacted by the disproportionate law enforcement of cannabis-related criminalization by providing them access to cannabis business development resources and small business support services.

General program benefits may include but are not limited to: business plan development, business mentoring, assistance securing capital, business needs assessment, loan readiness assessment, market assessment, data and research strategies and support, assistance with establishing a legal entity, assistance with criminal records expungement, lease negotiation assistance, small business legal considerations, mentoring, fiscal management, marketing/social media, technical training, employee training, and regulatory compliance.

The City will also work with local partners and stakeholders to develop a workforce development educational program to assist with the creation of a well-trained, qualified, and diverse workforce, including transitional workers. A program participant shall be entitled to receive the following benefits based on eligibility:

  1. All business support services offered under the program;

  2. The City will provide priority processing of the participant’s cannabis-related business and conditional use permit;

  3. The City will waive all fees associated with participants cannabis-related business permit;

  4. The City shall provide assistance with State and City regulatory compliance.

Who is eligible?

An applicant must provide documentation that sufficiently demonstrates that the applicant satisfies any one of the following Classifications:

  1. Individuals: An individual that is eligible to participate in the Program must be lawfully able to work in the United States and be Twenty-One (21) years of age or older. They must satisfy a Classification below as well:
    1. Classification 1. A current or former resident of the City of Coachella who previously resided or currently resides in a low-income household and was either: a) arrested or convicted for a cannabis-related crime in the City of Coachella between the years of 1980 and 2011; or is b) an immediate family member of an individual in subsection a of Classification 1 or Classification 2.

    2. Classification 2. A current or former resident of the City of Coachella who has lived in a low-income household for at least five (5) years, between the years of 1908 and 2018. Annual family income must be at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) and net worth below $250,000.

  1. Businesses: A cannabis business that is eligible to participate must provide a description of a statutory entity or business form that will serve as the legal structure for the applicant and a copy of its formation and organizing documents, including, but not limited to, articles of incorporation, certificate of amendment, statement of information, articles of association, bylaws, partnership agreement, operating agreement and fictitious business name statement. They must satisfy a Classification below as well:
    1. Classification 3. A cannabis business with not less than 51% ownership by individuals meeting Classification 1 or 2 criteria that their business resides within the City of Coachella. If no such individual exists, individuals meeting Classification 1 or 2 criteria from other applicable areas may be utilized.

    2. Classification 4. A Cannabis Incubator Business or a Cannabis Social Enterprise with not less than 51% ownership by individuals meeting Classification 1 or 2 criteria.

How to apply

Contact the City of Coachella for more information on how to apply.

City of Sacramento

About the program

The Cannabis Opportunity Reinvestment and Equity (CORE) Program was created to assist individuals and communities who are facing barriers to starting cannabis businesses due to the historical disparate enforcement of cannabis crimes.

General program benefits may include but are not limited to: business plan development, business monitoring, coaching on access to capital, business needs assessment, loan readiness assessment, market assessment, data and research strategies and support, assistance with a legal entity, assistance with criminal records expungement, lease negotiation assistance, small business legal considerations, mentoring, fiscal management, marketing/social media, technical training, employee training, and regulatory compliance. A CORE Program participant shall be entitled to receive the following benefits based on the applicable classification:

Classifications 1, 2, 3 & 5: Participants shall receive the following:

• All support services offered under the program

• Priority processing of application(s)

• Waiver of the Business Operating Permit (BOP) fee

• Exclusive access to any future storefront dispensary permits

• Exemption from the Neighborhood Responsibility Plan (NRP) requirement

Classification 4: Participants shall receive the following:

• Qualified and ready CORE participants to host

• Priority processing of application(s)

Who is eligible?

Classification 1:

  • Lives or have lived in a low-income household in Sacramento AND:
    • Have been arrested in Sacramento for cannabis–related crime between 1980-2011 or

    • An immediate family member who meets the description above

Classification 2:

  • Lived in a low income household in the following zip codes for 5 consecutive years between 1980 and 2011: 95811, 95815, 95817, 95820, 95823, 95824, 95826, 95828, 95818, 95838 and 95832.

Classification 3:

  • Businesses with no less than 51% ownership by Classifications 1& 2 individuals.

Classification 4:

  • CORE Program Incubator. CORE Incubator means a cannabis business which as a condition for receiving priority processing, either:
    • 1.Hosts a participant; 30% of its workforce are Classification 1 or 2 eligible participants, measured by hours worked; and contracts no less than 51% of its cannabis products or services and ancillary business support with eligible participants; or

    • 2. Is a shared manufacturing cannabis business and donates at least 10% of its hours of operation to allow participant(s) to utilize 100% of its business’ floor space and equipment; or

    • 3. Is a cannabis business that sells, gives or otherwise transfers no less than a 33% equity share in the CORE Incubator’s cannabis business to eligible CORE participants or participants; 30% of its workforce be Classification 1 or 2 eligible; and contracts no less than 30% of its cannabis and ancillary business with Classification 1 or 2 eligible participants.

  • CORE Incubators shall host, donate to, employ, contract with, sell, give, or transfer to participants that reside within the city district in which the incubator sits. If no such participants exist, incubators shall utilize participants from other applicable areas.

Classification 5:

  • Cannabis Social Enterprise with no less than 51% ownership by Classifications 1& 2 individuals.

How to apply

To confirm your eligibility for the program, contact the City of Sacramento.

Colorado Social Equity Programs

Cannabis Business Office

About the program

The Cannabis Business Office (CBO) creates new economic development opportunities, local job creation, and community growth for the diverse population across Colorado. The CBO supports cannabis businesses in Colorado with the following:

  • Grant Program: The CBO has completed applications for our third round of grant funding and anticipates disbursing funds in early November 2023

  • Loan Program: The CBO has partnered with NuProject to develop a revolving loan fund of $1 million. The CBO has already awarded two loans. Applications are currently open for the second round of funding. Learn more.

  • Technical Assistance: The CBO offers two online learning programs: CannaBusiness Foundations and CannaBusiness Growth. The former covers the basic building blocks of setting up and running a cannabis business. The latter offers vertical-specific modules in addition to content on HR, marketing, fundraising, and compliance best practices.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for a social equity license, applicants must qualify one of the following:

  • Resided for at least 15 years between 1980 and 2010 in a census tract designated by OEDIT as an Opportunity Zone or designated as a "Disproportionate Impacted Area"

  • Applicant or applicant's parent, legal guardian, sibling, spouse, child, or minor in their guardianship was arrested for a marijuana offense, convicted of a marijuana offense, or was subject to civil asset forfeiture related to a marijuana investigation

  • Household income in a year prior to application did not exceed 50% of the state median income as measured by the number of people who reside in the applicant's household

For more information about social equity licenses, please read the eligibility requirements.

How to apply

The Cannabis Business Technical Assistance and Pilot Grant programs are currently not open for registration. Sign up for Cannabis Business Office email updates to be updated when the programs become available.

Colorado Department of Revenue Accelerator Program

About the program

The Accelerator Program allows individuals who may have faced barriers to entry in Colorado's retail (adult-use) regulated marijuana industry to own and operate a marijuana business license as part of an agreed-upon partnership with an existing marijuana business that has been endorsed by the MED as an “Accelerator-Endorsed Licensee."

Examples of the types of assistance an Accelerator-Endorsed Licensee can provide an Accelerator Licensee, including, but are not limited to:

  • Accounting

  • Business services (e.g. sales and marketing)

  • Financial or capital support

  • Information technology support

  • Regulatory compliance support

Who is eligible?

Eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Colorado resident

  • Has not previously owned an MJ Business that was subject to revocation

  • ONE of the following:
    • The Applicant resided for at least 15 years between the years 1980 and 2010 in a census tract designated by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade as an Opportunity Zone or designated as a "Disproportionate Impacted Area";

    • The Applicant or Applicant's parent, legal guardian, sibling, spouse, child, or minor in their guardianship was arrested for a marijuana offense, convicted of a marijuana offense, or was subject to civil asset forfeiture related to a marijuana investigation; or

    • The Applicant's household income in a year prior to application did not exceed 50% of the state median income as measured by the number of people who reside in the Applicant's household.

  • The Social Equity Licensee holds at least 51% ownership in the business

How to apply

Applicants must FIRST submit a Finding of Suitability Application. Please do NOT submit any Regulated Marijuana Business License application (including for an Accelerator License) until you have submitted the suitability application and received approval as a Social Equity Licensee.

To apply for a license based on the “Social Equity Licensee” criteria established under section 44-10-308(4), C.R.S., you must determine whether you are (a) applying to own and operate a Regulated Marijuana Business License to participate in the Accelerator Program pursuant to section 44-10-203 C.R.S., or (b) whether you are applying to own and operate a Regulated Marijuana Business independently.

Participation in the Accelerator Program as a Social Equity Licensee:

  • Required Finding of Suitability: Applicants will need to submit a Natural Person Finding of Suitability Application in order to be issued an Owner’s License.
  • Once your owner application is approved, you will need to submit a Regulated Marijuana Business Application. Please see the New Regulated Marijuana Business License webpage for more information.
    • Accelerator Business Licenses: When submitting the business license application, applicants will need to identify which Accelerator License type they intend to operate as part of the Accelerator Program. Participation in the Accelerator Program is limited to Retail Marijuana operations only and may operate on the same premises as the Accelerator-Endorsed License or on a separate licensed premises provided by the Accelerator-Endorsed licensee. Accelerator license types available include:
      • Accelerator Cultivator: A Social Equity Licensee qualified to participate in the accelerator program and authorized to exercise the privileges of a Retail Marijuana Cultivation Facility on the premises of an Accelerator-Endorsed Retail Marijuana Cultivation Facility.

      • Accelerator Manufacturer: A Social Equity Licensee qualified to participate in the accelerator program and authorized to exercise the privileges of a Retail Marijuana Products Manufacturer on the premises of an Accelerator-Endorsed Retail Marijuana Products Manufacturer.

      • Accelerator Store: A Social Equity Licensee qualified to participate in the accelerator program and authorized to exercise the privileges of a Retail Marijuana Store on the premises of an Accelerator-Endorsed Retail Marijuana Store.

Required Accelerator-Endorsed Licensee: Prior to exercising any privileges of an Accelerator License, any person approved to participate in the Accelerator Program will first need to designate an Accelerator-Endorsed Licensee. An Accelerator Endorsed Licensee is a Retail Marijuana Cultivation Facility Licensee, Retail Marijuana Products Manufacturer Licensee, or a Retail Marijuana Store Licensee who has been endorsed to host and offer technical and capital support to a Social Equity Licensee, download the Accelerator-Endorsement Application.

Denver Social Equity Program

About the program

To promote social equity in Denver’s marijuana industry, the Social Equity Program:

  • Adopts the definition and criteria for social equity applicants established by the Colorado Legislature in House Bill 20-1424;

  • Removes the cap on retail store and cultivation locations and allows only social equity applicants to apply for new retail store and cultivation locations until July 1, 2027;

  • Provides social equity applicants with exclusive access to medical and retail marijuana manufacturing licenses and medical and retail marijuana transporter licenses until July 1, 2027;

  • Offers waived or reduced application or license fees to social equity applicants;

  • Adopts a marijuana delivery permit pursuant to the marijuana delivery framework created by the Colorado Legislature in House Bill 19-1234, and provides licensed transporters owned by social equity applicants the exclusive ability to conduct deliveries on behalf of stores until July 1, 2024; and

  • Adopts a marijuana hospitality license and retail marijuana hospitality and sales license pursuant to the hospitality framework created by the Colorado Legislature in House Bill 19-1230, and reserves these new license types for social equity applicants only until July 1, 2027.

Who is eligible?

  • To qualify as a social equity applicant, you must be a Colorado resident at the time of application. You cannot previously have owned a marijuana business license that was subject to revocation by the State Licensing Authority or by Denver Excise and Licenses. In addition, you must meet one of the following criteria:
    • Criteria 1: The applicant resided for at least 15 years between 1980 and 2010 in a census tract designated by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade as an Opportunity Zone or designated as a Disproportionate Impacted Area;
      • Use this mapping tool to determine if your address was in an Opportunity Zone or Disproportionate Impacted Area. (You must toggle on Opportunity Zones using the Layer list in the upper right corner.)

      • You could qualify using multiple addresses where you resided.

    • Criteria 2: The applicant or the applicant’s parent, legal guardian, sibling, spouse, child, or minor in their guardianship was arrested for a marijuana offense, convicted of a marijuana offense, or was subject to civil asset forfeiture related to a marijuana investigation; or

    • Criteria 3: The applicant’s household income in the year before application did not exceed 50% of the state median income as measured by the number of people who reside in the applicant’s household.
      • Look at the federal income tax return (IRS Form 1040) you filed with the IRS for last calendar year. If you are applying in 2022, you will need to look at your tax return for 2021.(If you have not yet filed your tax return for the previous year, you will need to wait until you have done so before applying.)If you are married filing separately, you need to use your tax return and your spouse’s tax return. Line 9 of Form 1040 reflects your total income. If filing individually, married filing jointly, head of household, or qualified widow/widower, this is your total household income. If you are married filing separately, add the total income on line 9 of your tax return to the total income on line 9 of your spouse’s tax return to determine your total household income.

      • Determine your household size. For the purpose of determining social equity eligibility, your household size includes the applicant, the applicant’s spouse (if applicable), and any dependents listed in the Dependents section of Form 1040.

      • Compare your total household income to the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey 2019 median income table. (The 2020 median income table is not available because of impacts of COVID-19 on the data collection. It will be updated when the 2021 median income table is released by the U.S. Census Bureau in the fall of 2022.)Select the row for the state where you resided the year before application. Select the column that reflects your household size. The dollar amount at the intersection of that row and column is 50% of the median income for that state and household size. Your total household income must fall below that dollar amount for you to qualify as a social equity applicant.

      • If you qualified for a marijuana business license as a social equity applicant using the income criteria in 2021 and you want to apply for another business license using the income criteria in 2022, you must wait until you can provide your tax return for 2021.

  • The applicant must hold at least 51% ownership of the marijuana business.

  • The state Marijuana Enforcement Division’s Social Equity website contains additional information about the criteria for qualifying as a social equity applicant. If you have questions about the criteria, contact the Marijuana Enforcement Division.

How to apply

1. Submit a state finding of suitability application:

  • Go to the state Marijuana Enforcement Division’s Applications and Forms website. If you do not hold an owner license, you need to submit a finding of suitability application to the state Marijuana Enforcement Division. The Marijuana Enforcement Division will use this application to verify your eligibility as a social equity applicant.

  • If you hold an owner license and want to qualify as a social equity applicant for a new license, contact the Marijuana Enforcement Division to learn how to have your eligibility verified.

  • Apply for a state marijuana business license

2. Apply for a Denver marijuana business license

  • To apply for a Denver marijuana business license as a social equity applicant, you need to provide a copy of your approved finding of suitability letter provided by the state Marijuana Enforcement Division. You also need to supply all supporting documentation that can be used to verify your eligibility as a social equity applicant. Applicants should submit documentation for all criteria under which they feel they could qualify. Your social equity eligibility will be verified upon each marijuana business license application. You will be required to submit proof of social equity eligibility each time you apply for a marijuana business license in the City and County of Denver.
    • To demonstrate the applicant’s place of residence between 1980 and 2010, the applicant can submit:
      • School records, rental or lease agreements, utility bills, mortgage statements, loan documents, bank records, tax returns, or other documents proving residency; or

      • An affirmation, under penalty of perjury, of the applicant’s residence and provide the name(s) and contact information for at least one individual who can verify the applicant’s place of residence during the relevant time period.

    • To demonstrate qualification related to a marijuana offense, the applicant can provide court or other documents demonstrating they or their family member’s arrest, conviction, or civil asset forfeiture, as well as affirmation of the familial relationship if qualifying under a family member’s marijuana offense.

    • To demonstrate the applicant’s household income in the year before application, the applicant must provide their federal income tax return (IRS Form 1040)for the previous year. For example, if the applicant applies for a license in 2022, they must submit their tax return reflecting their income in 2021. If the applicant is married filing separately, they must also provide their spouse’s tax return. If the applicant does not yet have their tax return for the previous year, the application could be delayed or denied until the tax return can be provided.

Illinois Social Equity Programs

Abaca

About the program

Under Abaca’s Social Equity Grant Program, social equity applicants can qualify for a waiver of their first two years of account fees (up to a $12,000 value) for their banking services.

Who is eligible?

Abaca mentions that social equity applicants who are awarded cannabis business licenses under certain state programs can qualify.

How to apply

Get in touch with Abaca to learn more and see if your Illinois cannabis business qualifies.

Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

About the program

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) mission under the CRTA is to develop accessible opportunities for technical assistance and access to capital for persons seeking to participate in the Illinois cannabis business industry, subject to appropriations from the Cannabis Business Development Fund.

As part of these efforts, DCEO has developed a network of technical assistance providers that are available to assist social equity applicants in their quest to procure and retain a cannabis business license. Additionally, DCEO established the Social Equity Cannabis Loan Program for the purposes of providing financial assistance to social equity applicants.

Through its Illinois Adult-Use Cannabis Social Equity Program, DCEO is committed to connecting persons and communities that have been historically impacted by arrests and imprisonment for cannabis offenses to have opportunities to participate in the legal cannabis industry.

View the Administrative Rules for the Social Equity Cannabis Loan Program.

The DCEO supports Social Equity Applicants by:

  • Providing technical assistance and individualized support through their partner network for pre and post-licensing, legal assistance, and loan application assistance

  • Providing eligibility to receive 50 points (out of a possible total of 250 from IDFPR on dispensary license application score or Receive 200 points (out of possible total 1000) from Illinois Department of Agriculture on their craft grower, infuser, or transporter license application score

  • Providing eligibility to pay reduced license and application fees

  • Providing access to low-interest loans for starting and operating a cannabis-related business

Who is eligible?

​The Cannabis Regulation & Tax Act (CRTA) 410 ILCS 705 establishes criteria for Social Equity Applicants as follows:

  • Has at least 51% ownership and control by one or more individuals who:
    • Have lived in a Disproportionately Impacted Area in 5 of the past 10 years (see map of Disproportionately Impacted Areas).

    • Have been arrested for, convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent for cannabis-related offenses eligible for expungement, including cannabis possession up to 500 grams or intent to deliver up to 30 grams.

    • Have a parent, child, or spouse that has been arrested for, convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent for cannabis-related offenses eligible for expungement, including possession up to 500 grams or intent to deliver up to 30 grams

  • Has more than 10 full-time employees, and more than half of those employees:
    • Currently reside in a Disproportionately Impacted Area (see map of Disproportionately Impacted Areas).

    • Have been arrested for, convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent for cannabis-related offenses eligible for expungement, including cannabis possession up to 500 grams or intent to deliver up to 30 grams.

    • Have a parent, child, or spouse that has been arrested for, convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent for cannabis-related offenses eligible for expungement, including possession up to 500 grams or intent to deliver up to 30 grams.

How to apply

  • Download the Social Equity Cannabis Loan one-pager.

Green Thumb Industries

About the program

Green Thumb’s License Education Assistance Program (LEAP) is a first-of-its-kind Illinois social equity initiative designed to help reduce barriers to cannabis business ownership for individuals who have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.

Teams awarded an Illinois Craft Grower and/or Adult-Use Dispensary license are now eligible to apply for LEAP’s Business Accelerator.

Here is what the process will look like:

  • Teams awarded an Illinois Craft Grower and/or Dispensary license submit a preliminary application to enter the Bake Off. All who apply for the Bake Off may not be selected to participate. The purpose of this preliminary application is to identify teams that align with Green Thumb’s mission and values for a more in-depth, in-person evaluation during the Bake Off stage.

  • The Bake Off! This is your team’s 10-minute opportunity to present an overview of your business and what makes it the right fit for Green Thumb’s incubation program. Green Thumb’s CEO, Ben Kovler, and business development experts will ask questions about your business plan.
  • Business Accelerator participants will be announced. Green Thumb will select at least one Craft Grower and at least one Dispensary group to incubate through the LEAP Business Accelerator. Participants will receive loan funds and six months of mentorship.

Who is eligible?

While the initial phase of LEAP was available to any and all Illinois social equity applicants, the program will now narrow to concentrate its funding and mentorship on 2-3 new licensees.

How to apply

Submit your completed LEAP Business Accelerator Application to socialequity@gtigrows.com to apply.

Good Tree Capital

About the program

GoodTree Capital provides lines of credit, term loans, commercial real-estate financing, and equipment financing.

Who is eligible?

To qualify for business financing through GoodTree Capital you must meet the following requirements, in addition to credit qualification criteria:

  • Owned the business for at least 6 months
  • Currently be at least a 20% owner of the business
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be a United States citizen or permanent resident, or living in the U.S. on a valid, long-term visa
  • Have a valid bank account and email address

The applying business must:

  • Have made at least $15,000 in sales in the last 6 months*
  • Operate in the United States

Your business financing cannot be used for financial investing, lending, gambling or illegal activities. Cannabis companies duly licensed by their State and/or municipality are considered legal.

How to apply

Find out if qualify for a contact here.

Massachusetts Social Equity Programs

Cannabis Control Commission

About the program

The Social Equity Program (SEP) creates sustainable pathways into the cannabis industry for individuals most impacted by the War on Drugs, marijuana prohibition, disproportionate arrest, and incarceration.

The free, statewide technical assistance and training program provides Participants with education, skill-based training, and tools for success in the industry across four areas: entrepreneurship, managerial-level workforce development, re-entry and entry-level workforce development, and ancillary business support.

The SEP is not a license type. Upon completion of this program, participants will have acquired tools and training to apply for and obtain a license through the Cannabis Control Commission. However, completion of the program does not guarantee licensure.

SEP benefits include:

  • Free technical assistance and training through vendors certified by the Commission;

  • Expedited license application review for individuals who maintain 10% ownership in the business.

For those who maintain majority ownership in the business, the following fee waivers and exclusive license types are also available:

  • Waived application fees (this waiver does not include the costs associated with background checks);

  • Waived seed-to-sale Metrc monthly program fees (this waiver does not include other costs associated with the Seed-to-sale tracking system, specifically the fees for plant and package tags);

  • Exclusive access to Social Consumption and Delivery-Only License types for up to a minimum of three years, as well as a pre-certification application that offers applicants a preliminary application process that certifies their propensity to run a business of one of these two license types; and

  • A 50% reduction of annual license fees, regardless of license type.

Who is eligible?

Applicants are eligible for the SEP if they demonstrate they meet at least one of the following criteria:

  1. Income that does not exceed 400% of Area Median Income and Residency in an Area of Disproportionate Impact, as defined by the Commission, for at least five of the past ten years;

  2. Residency in Massachusetts for at least the past 12 months and a conviction or continuance without a finding for an offense under M.G.L. c. 94C or an equivalent conviction in Other Jurisdictions;

  3. Residency in Massachusetts for at least the past 12 months and proof that the SEP applicant was either married to or the child of an individual convicted or continuance without a finding for a M.G.L. c. 94C offense or an equivalent conviction in Other Jurisdictions;

  4. Any individual listed as an owner on the original certification of an Economic Empowerment Priority Applicant who satisfies one or more the following criteria:
    • Lived for five of the preceding ten years in an Area of Disproportionate Impact, as determined by the Commission;

    • Experience in one or more previous positions where the primary population served were disproportionately impacted, or where primary responsibilities included economic education, resource provision or empowerment to disproportionately impacted individuals or communities;

    • Black, African American, Hispanic or Latino descent; or

    • Other significant articulable demonstration of past experience in or business practices that promote economic empowerment in Areas of Disproportionate Impact.

How to apply

The deadline to apply for Cohort 3 of the Social Equity Program closed November 15, 2021. Interested applicants must first create an account to log in to the Commission’s online Massachusetts Cannabis Industry Portal (MassCIP) to start an application for the SEP. General tutorials to help navigate MassCIP are available here.

Boston Cannabis Equity Program

About the program

The Boston Cannabis Equity Program was created through the Ordinance Establishing the Equitable Regulation of the Cannabis Industry in the City of Boston.

The Program provides funding and technical help to certified equity applicants and licensees from backgrounds and neighborhoods most affected by the War on Drugs.

The Boston Equity Fund offers financing to certified equity applicants and licensees for a wide range of purposes. These include:

  • working capital

  • startup costs and build out

  • equipment purchases

  • rent

The Technical Assistance (TA) program offers consulting services to certified equity applicants and licensees. These include:

  • support through the application process

  • development of business plans, accounting, and tax preparedness

  • help with legal compliance, and

  • marketing, branding, and website support

Who is eligible?

The program is particularly focused on people of:

  • Black and African American,

  • Hispanic and Latino,

  • Asian, and

  • Indigenous descent.

How to apply

Fill out this form to apply for the Boston Equity Fund.

Michigan Social Equity Programs

Marijuana Regulatory Agency

About the program

The Social Equity Program is available as a provision under MRTMA to promote and encourage participation in the marijuana industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement and to positively impact those communities.

Who is eligible?

Qualifying criteria for individuals must meet the following:

  • Residency in a disproportionately impacted community for at least 5 cumulative years within the past 10 years.
    • 25% fee reduction

  • Conviction of a marijuana related offense.
    • Misdemeanor convictions 25% fee reduction

    • Felony convictions 40% fee reduction

  • Registration as a primary caregiver under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) for at least 2 years between 2008 and 2017.
    • 10% fee reduction

Qualifying criteria for establishments must meet one of the following:

  • Operating within the community — Eligible social equity participants who plan to operate a marijuana establishment within a disproportionately impacted community will receive a fee reduction on all adult-use licensing fees.

  • Operating outside of the community — Eligible social equity participants who plan to operate a marijuana establishment outside of a disproportionately impacted community will receive an extended fee reduction for only 2 years following adult-use licensure.

How to apply

You can apply for the Social Equity Program online via this link. Use these instructions for assistance.

Marijuana Regulatory Agency Joint Ventures Program

About the program

The Marijuana Regulatory Agency's social equity team has announced the creation of the Joint Ventures Pathway Program (JVPP). Based on a recommendation made by the Racial Equity Advisory Workgroup, the JVPP will connect eligible social equity participants — and those seeking to become social equity participants — with adult-use licensees, potential adult-use licensees, and any businesses that wish to work with social equity participants interested in pursuing partnerships, including:

  • Joint business ventures

  • Mentorships

  • Incubator programs

  • Employment

For questions or further assistance, the MRA's social equity team may be reached via email at mra-socialequity@michigan.gov

Who is eligible?

This program is meant for eligible social equity participants.

How to apply

To apply for the JVPP, follow the link to submit your information.

New Jersey Social Equity Programs

Cannabis Regulatory Commission Priority Applications

About the program

Priority Applications increase opportunities in the cannabis industry for people from designated target communities, for people with cannabis convictions (expunged or not), and for minorities, women, and disabled veterans.

Social Equity Businesses, Diversely Owned Businesses, and Impact-Zone businesses will be prioritized in the licensure process so that their applications are reviewed before other applicants, regardless of when they apply.

Microbusinesses, which are limited to 10 employees and 2,500 square feet, will also be prioritized and, if successful, allowed to apply to expand their business in accordance with consumer demand.

Who is eligible?

Three types of cannabis businesses will receive priority review and approval in the application process:

  • Diversely Owned Businesses — minority-owned, woman-owned, or disabled veteran-owned and certified as such by the New Jersey Department of the Treasury in one or more of the listed categories

  • Social Equity Businesses — owned by people who have lived in an Economically Disadvantaged Area of the state, or who have convictions for cannabis-related offenses (expunged or not)

  • Impact Zone Businesses — located in an Impact Zone, owned by people from an Impact Zone, or employing residents of Impact Zones.

How to apply

Applications from entities that meet criteria for more than one priority status will be reviewed, scored, and approved in accordance with the status of highest priority. For example, an application from an entity that meets the criteria to be a Diversely-Owned Business and an Impact Zone Business will be considered a Diversely-Owned Business for purposes of application priority since Diversely-Owned Businesses are of higher priority than Impact Zone Businesses.

Diversely-Owned Business applications with more than one certification from the New Jersey Department of the Treasury’s Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services will be given priority over applications that have one certification.

Apply here for a New Jersey dispensary license.

Oregon Social Equity Programs

SEED Grant Fund

About the program

In alignment with the Ballot Measure 26-180 passed in 2016, the SEED Grant Fund prioritizes Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and women led/owned small business initiatives and/or projects, programs or services that support economic and educational development of Black and brown communities, which were most impacted by cannabis prohibition.

The SEED Grant Fund provides funding for entrepreneurship and economic development through:

  • Business incubation & acceleration

  • Business Support for Entrepreneurs

  • Co-Working Spaces

  • Networking & Mentorship

Who is eligible?

The SEED Grant Fund supports nonprofit and for-profit entities of any size, including community-based organizations, individuals, firms, teams or consultants. Newly-formed groups or initiatives with fiscal sponsorship from a nonprofit entity are also eligible. Multi-entity collaborations, coalitions and/or consortium efforts are encouraged to apply.

How to apply

The round 1 SEED application deadline was Friday, December 10, 2021 at 5 PM PST. To get ahead of the next round or ask any questions, reach out to the program via email at SEED@portlandoregon.gov

Portland Cannabis Reduced Fee Program

About the program

On Sept. 26, 2018, the City of Portland voted to create a Reduced Fee Program to help small cannabis businesses and those directly impacted by cannabis prohibition. Businesses that qualify will receive a fee reduction when paying for their City of Portland Marijuana Regulatory License.

Qualifying businesses will receive benefits based on their number of up to three (3) qualifying factors.

  • All license types can qualify for a City of Portland Marijuana Regulatory License (MRL) fee reduction applied at the time they are licensed.

  • Processors and Producers can also qualify for reimbursements for costs incurred at the Bureau of Development Services related to Early Assistance or Preliminary Life Safety meetings. This reimbursement will be applied to their MRL fee.

Those with 1 Qualifying Factor* will receive 15% off their license fee and up to $750 of early assistance reimbursement. Those with two-three Qualifying Factors will receive 25% off their license fee and up to $1,500 of early assistance reimbursement.

*Qualifying Factors are outlined in the “Who is eligible” section below.

Who is eligible?

Qualifying businesses will receive benefits based on their number of up to three (3) qualifying factors:

1) Small Businesses (Less than $750,000 annual total income in the preceding calendar year, and no more than two other cannabis businesses)

Less than $750,000 annual total income in the preceding calendar year

  • Combined total income in the previous calendar year of the business entity applying, and all business entities (including any parent companies, associate companies, subsidiaries, or affiliates) with ownership interests of 10% or greater.

  • Combined total income must match the sum of the “Total Income” line reported on all Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax return forms for each entity (Form 1120 for corporations; Form 1120S for S corporations; Form 1120, Form 1065, or Form 1040 for LLCs; Form 1065 for partnerships; Form 1040 for other sole proprietorships).

AND

The business entity and its owners have no more than a total of two other state recreational or medical cannabis licenses pending or obtained.

  • Total includes ALL recreational or medical cannabis licenses from all states.

  • This Includes the total number of licenses of the business entity seeking the license and all individuals and entities with 10% or greater ownership interest, including any parent companies, associate companies, subsidiaries, or affiliates of business entity owners.

  • Does NOT include individuals’ medical cards issued for personal medical purposes.

2) Small Business with MWESB-Certified Ancillary Industry Vendors - BOTH of the following must be true for this Qualifying Factor:

Meets the Small Business qualifications above

AND

Contracts with an ancillary industry vendor(s) MWESB-certified by the State of Oregon and listed on the State’s Certified Vendor Directory as an Emerging Small Business, Minority Business Enterprise, Service-Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise, or Women Business Enterprise.

  • If the application is for a new license, the entity seeking the license must have paid the vendor(s) a total of at least $30,000 during the 24 months immediately preceding license issuance, for expenses directly related to the marijuana business seeking the license.

  • If the application is for a renewal license, the entity seeking the license must have paid the vendor(s) a total of at least $30,000 during the most recent licensing period, for expenses directly related to the marijuana business seeking the license.

  • The marijuana business, or any owners, including any parent companies, associate companies, subsidiaries, or affiliates, must not have any shared ownership with the ancillary industry vendor(s) or its parent companies, associate companies, subsidiaries, or affiliates.

3) Owners or Staff with Prior Cannabis Conviction(s)

25% or greater of ownership or 20% or greater of staff hours are represented by individuals with a federal or state conviction for a criminal offense committed prior to July 1, 2015 in which possession, delivery or manufacture of marijuana or marijuana items is an element, whether misdemeanor or felony.

How to apply

To apply for the program, fill out the application.

Additional resources to support inclusivity and equity in cannabis

There are numerous groups working to improve the cannabis industry. Some work to improve diversity in the workforce, others seek to advocate for legalization and decriminalization. All of them are crucial for this industry's success.

Additional Resources

Cookies x Amplifier

Amplifier’s first ever activist-driven Augmented Reality app transforms the analog 2-D posters, stickers, and murals into art that literally comes to life to deliver a call to action.

Download the app for free and point it to any Amplifier AR activated artworks to watch it come to life with animation and storytelling.

Equity-Now

Equity-Now is a Scholarship Fund founded by Pressure Co in partnership with Exit-Now. Starting in St. Louis, Missouri, they have partnered with Saint Louis University to launch the Equity-Now program, which will create inclusion and more diversity in the local cannabis workforce.

Applicants must meet the requirements set by Exit-Now and partnering universities to be considered for this opportunity.

Once accepted into the program, they will document and follow the student's journey through completion.

Then they will connect them with the Cannabis companies in the state to find job placement to ensure scholarship recipients have fair access to industry opportunities.

The Minority Cannabis Business Association

The Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) is the largest national trade association dedicated to serving the needs of minority cannabis businesses and our communities.

Individual Membership provides members with information, education, and connections to other cannabis professionals and financial resources.

Corporate Membership lends the financial support of established cannabis businesses and the assistance of individual members to make measurable gains in the representation of minorities in the cannabis industry.

The Equity Organization

The Equity Organization is a 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to research, education and advocacy around just, effective and equitable approaches to drug policy and related criminal justice-focused reforms.

Some initiatives being taken by The Equity Organization are record expungement, creating equitable enterprises, the Cannabis Media Lab, and The Accelerator

Marijuana Matters

Marijuana Matters is a registered non-profit that through advocacy, entrepreneurship, and education, identifies and eliminates barriers to economic opportunity in regulated cannabis markets for those disadvantaged by marijuana’s criminalization.

They provide education, advocacy, and help entrepreneurship in the cannabis industry.

Minorities for Medical Marijuana

Minorities for Medical Marijuana, Inc. (M4MM) is organized as a non profit organization with corporate offices based in Orlando Florida.

Some programs they are involved with are:

  • Ready Set Grow — College intern and workforce apprentice program aimed at creating hands on training experiences in the hemp and cannabis industry.

  • Sow the Land — Hemp farming and technology advocacy, education, and resources for today’s urban farmer with 100 hours of free hemp farming training for farmers and entrepreneurs.

  • (M) Procure— Providing supplier diversity training, education, and outreach to minority and small owned businesses.

Did we miss a program on this list? Email us so we can add it!

Maui action

Apply for Flowhub's Social Equity Program

Eligible social equity business owners will receive free dispensary POS software valued at over $50,000.

Maui action

Discover a new way to sell cannabis

Flowhub helps dispensaries run fast, smooth, and compliant business operations.