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$40M Earmarked For Maryland’s Social Equity Cannabis Program To Help Level The Playing Field

After Maryland voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum to legalize adult-use cannabis this past November, the new law went into effect on July 1. 

One of the main principles of Maryland’s legal cannabis program has been to drive opportunity “in an equitable way,” Governor Wes Moore said on several occassions. 

To get that end, the Maryland Department of Commerce announced Monday that applications will open on August 1 for the second round of funding available through the Cannabis Business Assistance Fund.

“The $40 million in this round of funding will help support social equity licensees who held a stage one pre-approval for a license before October 1, 2022 and are not yet operational by August 1, 2023,” per the Dept.’s press release and first reported by Marijuana Moment.

“The cannabis industry is evolving quickly and we want to make sure that Maryland helps lead this new chapter of equity and economic growth,” said Gov. Moore. “By focusing this round of funding on social equity applicants, we can ensure investments go towards businesses in communities that have been historically overlooked, and ultimately provide new opportunities for residents throughout Maryland.”

As part of the application process, applicants need to provide a description of how the funding will be used as well as a timeline for when they plan to become operational. Applicants can choose to receive the funding in a grant paid as a lump sum. Up to $5 million is available for each awardee.

“Reforming Maryland’s cannabis industry has been a very collaborative process with community partners across the state,” said Kevin Anderson, Secretay of the Department of Commerce (DOC). “By having this equitable rollout of the state’s Cannabis Business Assistance Fund, we will continue growing the conversation while driving innovation, job creation, and positive change throughout the industry.”

Maryland officials are planning future funding rounds that will focus on supporting cannabis-related programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, businesses applying for licenses and business development organizations such as incubators.

“Funding will also be available to train and assist small businesses, including minority and women business owners and entrepreneurs who are seeking to become licensed to participate in the adult-use cannabis industry,” per the DOC press release.

Social Equity And Benzinga

Social equity in the cannabis industry is always a topic of great interest at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference, which is taking place in Chicago this Sept 27-28, its 17th edition. Get your tickets today before prices increase and secure a spot at the epicenter of cannabis politics, culture, investment and branding. 

© 2023 Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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