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Monday, August 3, 2020

Humboldt has a lot of state money to promote equity in the cannabis industry. So where is it? | Lost Coast outpost

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A county infographic depicting “Project Trellis” – its support program for the local cannabis industry, which includes the equity program.

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Although Humboldt County received nearly $ 3.7 million in funding for its cannabis equity program – a state-funded local project designed to lift communities affected disproportionately by the ban – residents of Humboldt County do not have not yet received any of these funds.

However, it is not entirely the fault of the county. Of the $ 3.7 million allocated to the county by the Cannabis Control Office, the county received only around $ 1.3 million in the first round of funding, while the other $ 2.4 million will come later.

Humboldt received $ 1.3 million in April and the only money spent so far has been overhead. Scott Adair, county economic development director, that agency had no strict criteria for using the funds. In essence, his only guide was that the funds had to be spent together with the county equity program and that the funds had to be used within a year.

“It was frustratingly slow … And we understand that,” said Adair al Outpost. “People are eager to get funding and so are we. Things are moving very quickly now and I just want to give my reassurance to the public that we are equally interested in getting this funding in the community as quickly as possible. ”

So what’s the problem, you might ask?

Well, there has been a debate on Proposition 209, the amendment to the California Constitution that prevents discrimination or preferential treatment based on race and how this could affect the distribution of funds within the Equity Program.

“We had to converse with our county attorney and the state and it looks like we are fine and can move on,” said Adair.

This suspension prompted the California Center for Rural Policy, the agency that helped prepare the evaluation, to make an update of the final report, which must be sent back to the Board of Supervisors before the funds are dispersed.

“Once approved, we can immediately go to a funding availability notice and initiate the application process,” said Adair.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also slowed down the process somewhat and has prompted many departments of economic development to redirect most of its resources to help companies currently struggling with the pandemic.

“In fact, half of our team was transferred to the county emergency operations center for about two months and during that time we weren’t giving the Trellis program, or the Equity program, the amount of attention and staff time needed to move forward quickly, “said Adair.

For this reason, the decision was made to permanently hire someone who focuses exclusively on Project Trellis and the Cannabis Equity Program. Adair said that people have been checked, scheduled interviews and that he hopes to hire someone for the position in the near future.

If someone is hired in the next two or three weeks and the CCRP makes the necessary updates for the assessment by mid-August, Adair hopes to have the re-evaluation to the Board of Supervisors by mid-September, which means that the funds they could be distributed as early as autumn.

“We will definitely have a period of application this fall,” said Adair. “I don’t want to see him go in 2021, because we only have until April 2021 to spend the first round of funds.”

Adair estimates that the maximum amount of funding that a person can receive will be around $ 15,000 and will be based on the applicant’s needs. The grants essentially consist of a reimbursement program based on education and training costs, fees for licenses or permits and other expenses that may constitute obstacles that prevent people from entering the legal side of the cannabis industry.

When the county put together its request for cannabis equity funds, which was included in the report, it was supposed to be a rough estimate of how many people could qualify for the grants. The county has created a minimum of 1,531 people who will qualify for funding. This was based on the number of cannabis permits granted and some other factors.

“If we simply abandon the number of licenses registered by Planning and Building, then it’s for a company,” said Adair. “It does not include the number of people who also work in that business. There may be black market operations still existing out there, or workers working for black market operations, who may have been hesitant to step forward and identify themselves, but part of these funding is to help these operations comply. ”

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The Outpost sent some additional questions about the program to Adair. Here are the exact questions and their answers.

If a person has never been arrested / convicted of cannabis-related charges and has not had their immediate family, can they still benefit from funds? If so, why?

Yes. Arrest and / or sentencing is not the only requirement for eligibility, it is just one of many potential criteria that can be met for the program. There are other ways in which people have been negatively affected by the war on drugs that did not include arrest or conviction.

Do you think Humboldt received a disproportionate amount of funds from the state for the Cannabis Equity program? Why or why not? (Context: Humboldt County received $ 3,798,264.15 in both rounds of funding which is on par with some urban areas such as Long Beach City, which received $ 3,613,991.77 and Sacramento City who received $ 5,029,075.27.)

No. The lack of competition has made it easier for Humboldt County to get a bigger prize. Our county was one of the first to act (i.e. when funding was announced) and many other jurisdictions were unable to apply for funding or meet the criteria before the deadline. As far as we know (in the face of our discussions with our state counterparts), new funding will be made available in the coming years. Therefore, other communities are also expected to apply for funding. This also means that we are still not sure what the denominator is or whether the amount of funding that Humboldt has received out of all expected future distributions of that loan is (or will be) disproportionate. Personally, I find it equally important to remind people that the hills and mountains of Humboldt County served as ground zero for the military-backed operations related to the war on cannabis and that our neighborhoods and roads were the backdrops for police actions. against those individuals who were cultivating it. The severity and extent of past military and police activities in our community lead me to believe that the size of the Humboldt County prize is defensible. (CAMP, Green Sweep Operation, etc.)

Will people qualify for grants if people earn $ 100,000 or more in the cannabis industry? How influenced could they be if they are making a six-figure salary?

I see the subject here and the point that is raised. Why does an individual who is doing well receive or benefit from an equity grant? The legislation behind SB1294 and the direction that is provided to us by the state (i.e. how we can disburse these funds) is very clear. This program is designed to provide reward to those populations, communities and neighborhoods that are negatively affected by the criminalization of cannabis and the war on drugs. Eligibility is therefore based on the negative impact of such previous actions and is not based on an applicant’s assets, finances or income. This means that participation in the program is not based on whether or not a person financially deserves the funds, but whether or not a candidate meets the criteria.

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