Colorado enacts law to support minority marijuana entrepreneurs

Ranks of women, minority cannabis execs rebound to pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest data from the MJBiz Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Report. Get your copy here.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a measure with initial funding of $4 million that will provide loans, grants and technical assistance to social equity marijuana licensees.

Lawmakers previously passed the bill, SB21-111, by a vote of 19-15 in the Senate and 40-23 in the House.

The so-called marijuana entrepreneur program will be funded initially with $4 million from the state’s marijuana tax cash fund.

The program will include:

  • Loans to social equity licensees for seed capital and ongoing business expenses.
  • Grants to social equity licensees to support innovation and job creation.
  • Technical assistance such as business-plan development, consulting services and funding to augment existing technical assistance programs.

The Colorado Office of Economic Development will submit an annual report to the governor detailing how the money is being spent.

Colorado took a first step toward bolstering industry diversity by passing legislation last year that defined how social equity license holders would qualify for mentorship programs and offered financial incentives to help get businesses off the ground.

A social equity licensee must be a Colorado resident who holds at least a majority ownership in a marijuana business. An applicant also must meet one of the following criteria:

  • The applicant or an immediate family member was arrested or convicted for a marijuana offense.
  • The applicant lived in a designated economically disadvantaged area for a minimum of 15 years between 1980 and 2010.
  • An applicant’s income is below a certain threshold.