marijuana plant
A marijuana plant. Times of San Diego photo

San Diego was awarded nearly $900,000 Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Office of Business and Economic Development to “promote equity” in the local cannabis industry.

According to the state, the money is intended to support residents seeking to enter the legal cannabis industry in the city through funding grants to cover permit and license fees and associated start-up property costs while providing access to the cannabis industry workforce.

“The historical enforcement of drug laws produced profound disparities in business ownership, wage earnings and mass incarceration within the criminal justice system for African American/Black, Latino and Native American/Indigenous communities,” said Kim Desmond, the city’s chief of race and equity. “An acknowledgment of historic institutional racism and systemic inequity is key to understanding disparities in the cannabis industry.”

San Diego was among 16 cities and counties across the state to receive a combined $15 million in grants, funded through tax revenue generated from statewide recreational cannabis sales.

According to the city, the GO-Biz funds will be disbursed locally, going toward permitting and licensing fees, education and training and property rental assistance for industries that support local cannabis businesses — such as finance, marketing, advertising and legal services.

“Receiving this critical funding source is vital to jump-starting our Cannabis Equity Program,” said San Diego’s Cannabis Business Division Deputy Director Lara Gates. “These dollars will provide a solid foundation for our initial cannabis equity applicants to get a strong foothold in the legal cannabis market.”

In 2022, the city was awarded $764,000 from a state Department of Cannabis Control grant to “develop online the tools necessary to help businesses navigate and comply with local and state laws and streamline permit processes.”

The city’s Cannabis Business Division issues permits and regulates cannabis businesses in San Diego to ensure they follow requirements under city code.

City News Service contributed to this article.