Governor Jared Polis wants to see $5 million put in a new state fund intended to advance marijuana industry involvement among communities impacted by the War on Drugs, with the majority of that money going toward small grants and low-interest loans.
The proposal for the Cannabis Advance Program (renamed from the Cannabis Opportunity Program, or COP), written by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade in conjunction with the governor’s office, was created after a bill passed in the Colorado Legislature in 2020 offered an official definition for social equity applicants in the marijuana industry. However, the bill only defined those applicants, and didn’t mandate any specific programs they could apply for, much less their fiscal impacts.
Polis’s initial suggestion — using $150,000 to hire a new OEDIT employee tasked with evaluating the need for marijuana social equity in Colorado — quickly faced backlash from industry stakeholders who said that would just delay the process. The figure to get the program going then bounced up to around $3 million, and eventually to $5 million by the time it reached the State Legislative Joint Budget Committee, which is expected to vote on the proposal sometime this week. [Read more at Westword]