The Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation Tuesday launched a Social Equity Program to give up to $6 million in grants to help entrepreneurs enter the legal cannabis market.

“In order to more responsibly and equitably advise and administer cannabis laws and programs, we need regular input from communities most impacted by those laws and programs,” DCR Executive Director Cat Packer said. “Through community input, we’ve been able to develop programming, like the SEED Grant Program, that begins to address the need for capital to go directly into the hands of individuals most impacted by cannabis prohibition and its enforcement.”

In the first phase of the program, a total of $5 million, made up of $25,000 individual grants, will be disseminated to eligible applicants. The second phase will give up to $10,000 to those applicants, for a total of $1 million, after their pre-application is deemed eligible for further processing.

The funding will help cover start-up and operational expenses and bring the selected applicants closer to launching their licensed commercial cannabis business in Los Angeles, according to DCR officials.

“The California Cannabis Equity Grants Program was created to reduce barriers to entering the legal cannabis industry through state support for the local equity programs, including programs that provide direct capital assistance to equity applicants,” said Nicole Elliott, senior cannabis adviser to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“In launching their SEED Grant Program, the City of Los Angeles is taking important steps to advance economic justice for communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition,” she said.

People can apply for the SEED Grant Program at bit.ly/3sBIxPC.

The department also announced a community engagement campaign to receive additional public input as it makes future cannabis policy and programming recommendations to Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council.

Through the SPARK campaign, the department will collect community input through:

— SPARK Sessions: a virtual event series led by local leaders, community members and industry members focused on topics including licensing, regulation, the Social Equity Program, corporate social responsibility and community impact;

— SPARK Resources: information stations that will have fact sheets and frequently asked questions about the department, its program, policies and general cannabis-related questions;

— SPARK Surveys: surveys that provide the department with direct feedback from people in the community and cannabis industry on current policies, programs and ways the department can improve services; and

— SPARK Comment Box, which will allow anyone to give feedback on “all things cannabis.”

People can access the SPARK campaign by visiting bit.ly/3n33emB and RSVP to the first SPARK session at bit.ly/3n2OrYU.

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