COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) – The Colorado Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee has approved four million dollars to create a state fund to help lower-income marijuana business entrepreneurs who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford a start in the industry.
The four million dollars of state marijuana tax revenue will go toward the Cannabis Advancement Program (CAP), which aims to provide grants, low-interest loans, and other support to select people and businesses.
Sarah Woodson, founder of The Color of Cannabis, which advocates for more representation of racial minorities in the industry, told KRDO this especially helps those people.
A Marijuana Business Daily survey of nearly 400 “ganjapreneurs” nationwide found that only 19 percent were minorities — meanwhile they account for around forty percent of the country’s total population.
Woodson said the disparity is because of the wealth gap, and the war on drugs targeting people of color. However, she said the new Cannabis Advancement Program doesn’t only help these groups.
“It’s not based on color, it’s based on circumstance,” Woodson explained.
To qualify, applicants must prove they or their families were negatively impacted by the War on Drugs, they earn less than 50 percent of the state median income, or they come from a community considered a low-economic opportunity zone by the Colorado Office of Economic Development.
The program also plans to help fund organizations like Woodson’s, that encourage social equity in the local cannabis industry.
“It will make a difference for the people that want it to make a difference,” Woodson told KRDO. “Anytime anyone is able to help you financially in a business, you now have an opportunity to grow. There’s no guarantee around whether or not you’re going to be successful, but you have an opportunity now, and that’s what this is about.”
Since the program was voted on last year and its funding was approved separately, lawmakers will have to vote to attach the funding to the program before it can roll out.