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$75,000 Grant Lead Way In San Diego Cannabis Equity Assessment And Program

Small cannabis clones are seen in a display case at SDRC, a San Diego-based d...

Photo by Andrew Bowen

Above: Small cannabis clones are seen in a display case at SDRC, a San Diego-based dispensary, Nov. 1, 2019.

The City of San Diego Tuesday announced plans to develop a program to promote ownership and employment opportunities in the legal cannabis industry, utilizing a $75,000 grant received from the state this week.

The grant is intended to help fund a cannabis equity assessment and support the development of a first-ever cannabis equity program.

San Diego was among several Californian cities to receive a Cannabis Equity Grant from the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development in partnership with the Bureau of Cannabis Control through the Cannabis Equity Grants Program for Local Jurisdictions.

"As San Diego recovers from the pandemic and our economy builds back, we're doing everything we can to ensure that it happens equitably — and that includes promoting equity and eliminating barriers for entry into the regulated cannabis industry," said Mayor Todd Gloria. "This survey will help assess how effective our current efforts are and help us design a regulatory program that creates social equity in the growing local legal cannabis sector."

The cannabis equity assessment is intended to provide a data-informed look at the historical impacts of cannabis criminalization on San Diego; evaluate potential opportunities and constraints in the current regulatory framework; and provide policy recommendations to assure equity and diversity in the emerging cannabis industry.

Information gathered from the assessment will serve as a blueprint for a future equity program to support pathways to cannabis business development.

"The assessment to be conducted under this grant will be foundational in the development of regulatory framework changes that may be needed for San Diego's cannabis program," said P.J. Fitzgerald, deputy director of the Cannabis Business Division, which was formed late last year. "Viewed through an equity lens, we will ensure all our communities have access to participate in the legalized cannabis marketplace."

With the passage of Proposition 64 in 2016, the city adopted regulations for cannabis businesses, including retail outlets, production and testing facilities. The city's cannabis business division was created to issue permits and regulate cannabis businesses to ensure they are conforming with city code requirements.

San Diego also recently established the Office of Race and Equity, dedicated to addressing racial justice, equity and providing fair and just distribution of resources, access and opportunity. Together, both programs plan to partner to conduct San Diego's cannabis equity assessment over the next year.

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