California awards $35.5 million in marijuana tax-funded grants to redress drug war harms

California officials are handing out another round of community reinvestment grants totaling $35.5 million with tax revenue generated from recreational marijuana sales.

The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) announced Wednesday that it has awarded 78 grants to organizations across the state that will support economic and social development in communities disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs. .

“Tough federal and state drug policies enacted during this period led to mass incarceration of people of color, diminished access to social services, loss of education due to from decreased eligibility for federal financial assistance, the prohibition on the use of public housing and other public assistance, and the separation of families,” reads a press release from the office.

Cannabis-derived funds will be used to support efforts such as job placement, mental health and addiction treatment, legal services, and linkages to medical care.

This is the fourth year that cannabis-funded funds have been disbursed through the California Community Reinvestments Grants (CalCRG) program.

Dee Dee Myers, director of GO-Biz and senior adviser to Governor Gavin Newsom (D), said that the program “continues to be an important tool for communities that still face systemic restrictions and barriers to opportunity and equity.”

“This final round of awards will support economic justice and the well-being of communities across our state that have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs,” Myers said.

Grants to local health departments and nonprofit organizations will support initiatives such as job placement, legal services for community reintegration, and mental health and addiction treatment.

Among the grant recipients this year are community services such as the YMCA of San Diego County, United CORE Alliance, Bay Area Legal Aid, San Jose State University Research Foundation and Urban Association of Forestry and Fire Professionals.

The biggest rewards from this round go to JobTrain, GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles, Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership, Flintridge Center and Recovery Cafe San Jose, which will each receive $900,000.

[email protected] The Coalition, whose missions range from breaking cycles of poverty to supporting workforce development for transgender, gender non-conforming and intersex immigrant women, will receive $450,000.

The amount of funding and the number of recipients increased from last year’s levels, when the state awarded about $29 million in grants to 58 nonprofit organizations under the CalCRG program.

The program was first announced in April 2020 and applications for these grants initially opened in September 2020.

California has collected nearly $4 billion in marijuana tax revenue since launching the state’s adult use market in 2018, the Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) reported at the end of the last month. And for the first quarter of 2022, the state saw approximately $294 million in cannabis revenue generated from excise, cultivation, and sales tax on marijuana.

Marijuana tax policy in the Golden State has been the focus of attention from stakeholders, regulators and even the governor in recent months.

For example, Newsom unveiled an updated budget proposal last month that calls for eliminating the state’s marijuana grow tax and revising cannabis tax revenue allocations.

May’s revised budget would take steps aimed at tackling the illicit market and making the legal industry more competitive, largely by reversing the grow tax that marijuana companies currently incur.

As the state’s Office of the Legislative Analyst (OLA) pointed out in its own recent report updateNewsom’s proposal also calls for setting monetary thresholds for cannabis tax-funded programs and setting aside any excess revenue.

California collected about $817 million in adult marijuana tax revenue last fiscal year. This represented 55% more cannabis revenue for state coffers than was generated in the 2020-2021 period.

Meanwhile, state officials launched a new resource last month, providing people with an interactive map of where marijuana businesses are allowed — and where they can’t open — across the state.

The tool draws attention to the fact that more than half of cities and counties in the state do not allow any type of cannabis licensee to operate in their area, which advocates say is a problem that has allowed the illicit market to thrive despite voter-approved legalization. .

The Department of Cannabis Control’s (DCC) map doesn’t show where to find open dispensaries per se (although the agency has a separate online resource where consumers can find individual licensing businesses). But it breaks down the number of cities in a given county that license retailers, distributors, manufacturers, growers and testing facilities.

Newsom’s revised budget also calls for the creation of a “local cannabis jurisdiction retail access grant program” to support the development and implementation of local retail licensing efforts. The $20.5 million for this program would come from the state’s general fund. Localities that license equity seekers could receive additional funding.

The governor said last month that the aim of the initiative was to “tackle the persistent problem which is exactly what we anticipated would be a persistent problem – and which deals with the black market, going after illegal producers and illegal operators”.

California officials also announced in January that the state had provided $100 million in funding to help develop local marijuana markets, in part by securing a full license for cannabis businesses.

DCC distributed the funds to 17 cities and counties where there are a disproportionate number of provisional marijuana licenses, rather than full-year licenses. The department first announced that applications for the Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant program opened in October.

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