Future Long Beach cannabis operators received a boost this month after the city received over $1.2 million in grants to help people open up businesses through the city’s social equity program.

The funding is meant to help equity applicants, those who have been affected by or live in neighborhoods that have been disproportionately touched by the war on drugs and who need help financing the startup costs of entering the cannabis industry. The most recent round of funding comes from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office of economic and business development.

While opening a dispensary won’t be possible until the City Council expands the number of storefronts allowed in the city—an idea the council discussed in March—the funding can be used in the interim to help production, delivery, lab testing and other parts of the industry get off the ground. The city has already reached its cap of 32 retail storefronts that was set by a resident-approved measure to legalize cannabis sales in 2016.

Applicants who meet the criteria for equity status under the city’s guidelines, which includes having a net-worth less than $250,000 but also having at least 51% ownership in the business, can get direct grants from the city for meeting certain milestones.

Reaching the stage of cannabis application review can get an applicant between $20,000 and $80,000. Submitting facility plans can result in a $35,000 grant. The city issuing a cannabis license to the applicant can come with an $80,000 grant.

The City Council created the city’s cannabis equity program in 2018 but state funding didn’t start to roll in until 2019, when the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control began doling out grants to municipalities across California.

Long Beach is one of eight cities in the state that has adopted a cannabis equity ordinance.

In October 2019 Long Beach received about $914,000 from the BCC and was awarded another $2.7 million in April 2020. This year’s grant brings the city’s total to nearly $5 million in grant funding the city has received to assist cannabis social equity applicants since the program’s creation.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.