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Mendocino County is proud to announce that the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) has awarded $2,242,704 in Cannabis Equity Grant Funding towards the development and implementation of a Local Equity Program for Mendocino County.  Funding for the program will begin in Fiscal Year 2020-2021, and no more than 10% may go towards administration of the program. This leaves more than $2 million for loans, grants, technical assistance, training, waivers and fee reductions for eligible individuals. The Mendocino County Planning and Building Services is working with the Go-Biz to enter into an agreement by the end of June for the awarded equity funding. Planning and Building will announce further details regarding the program implementation and participation this summer.

This grant comes as the result of an unprecedented, extremely intensive, and time-sensitive collaboration in February between local government, and both academic and cannabis industry partners.  Mendocino County would like to acknowledge and express appreciation for the considerable efforts made by several individuals and organizations to pull together the resources and information necessary to complete the application.  In effort to gather historical information that was necessary to qualify for the funding, Supervisor John McCowen, who has a long and detailed history developing cannabis specific regulations and programs, was instrumental in providing information regarding the County’s prior cannabis programs and ordinance history. “Our staff and consultants have done great work! Our legacy cannabis businesses were already struggling with the high cost and complexity of entering the legal market, so these equity funds are needed now more than ever,” said Second District Supervisor John McCowen. Supervisor Williams spearheaded the effort for a tremendous and effective government, academic institution, and industry partnership. The Executive Office and Planning and Building Services worked collaboratively to coordinate the equity assessment and grant application.

The County worked closely and rapidly with academic partners at the California Center for Rural Policy (CCRP) at Humboldt State University, the Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research (HIIMR), as well as cannabis industry partners including the Mendocino Cannabis Alliance (MCA), Origins Council (OC), and cannabis attorney Hannah Nelson to produce a Mendocino County Equity Assessment which established that Mendocino has been disproportionately impacted by the prohibition of cannabis and the war on drugs.  It also concluded that a targeted, data-driven and well-funded Local Equity Program can help certain populations and neighborhoods, particularly small growers and those impacted by past policies that may be left behind, participate in a legal and sustainable economic future.

Program eligibility will be determined based on a set of criteria including, but not limited to: prior arrests for nonviolent cannabis-related offenses, asset forfeiture arising from a cannabis-related event, homelessness resulting from cannabis enforcement, exploitation or violence while participating in the cannabis industry, members of minority populations, cannabis businesses located in areas with a more than 20% poverty rate, and those engaged in small-scale cultivation.

Services to be provided by the program may include: tiered or waived fees, application assistance, assistance for small business development, deferral of application fees for Administrative Permits and Use Permits, technical assistance related to Road Maintenance Associations and cannabis cooperative associations, loans and grants for purposes of assuring regulatory compliance and mitigation of environmental effects of cannabis cultivation and employment training. As the Equity Program is developed, more information will be released on eligibility and services.

The County looks forward to continued collaboration with its academic and industry partners to finalize and implement the Mendocino County Equity Program.

For more information, please contact Brent Schultz, Mendocino County Planning and Building Services Director at (707) 234-6650.

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