Colorado to Award New Social Equity Cannabis Business Licenses

Colorado is considering how to distribute new social equity cannabis business licenses, which are set to launch in 2020, according to a Westword report.

The new licenses, reserved for low-income demographics, were mandated by Senate Bill 224, legislation signed into law earlier this year that overhauled the state’s medical and adult-use cannabis rules. The new licenses are meant to add more diversity to Colorado’s cannabis market, Westword reported, while also providing opportunity to potential business owners who may not have access to the traditional avenues of funding and training. Under the new law, new licensees are required to use established cannabis companies’ facilities as they research and manufacture their own cannabis products.

Applicants must be from low-income areas identified by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, residing there for at least five of the past 10 years, although they can locate their business outside of the area upon receiving a license, Westword reported. Licensees can participate in cultivation, extraction and infused-product manufacturing opportunities, although dispensary operations are excluded from the program.

State regulators and industry stakeholders discussed the new cannabis business licenses during a Marijuana Enforcement Division meeting Sept. 13, breaking into working groups to discuss issues such as the length of the agreements between the new licensees and established businesses, how the state should vet potential companies to host the business accelerators and how new license applicants should be scored and qualified, according to Westword.

The final rulemaking hearings are going on now, with the last one scheduled for Sept. 20.

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