Denver’s social equity program strengthens the rights of cannabis entrepreneurs among those affected by the war on drugs


Denver Department of Economic Development and Opportunity (FINGER) launched a new entrepreneurship assistance program to increase cannabis business ownership among social capital applicantsespecially for those individuals who are disproportionately affected by the prohibition and enforcement of marijuana.

According to the state’s definition of a social justice claimant, Denver is seeking candidates for cannabis entrepreneurs who meet at least one of the following criteria:

Resided for at least 15 years between 1980 and 2010 in a census area designated as an opportunity zone or disproportionately affected area; or
A parent, legal guardian, brother, sister, spouse, child, or minor of the applicant or the applicant in their custody has been arrested for a marijuana offense, convicted of a marijuana offense, or subject to property forfeiture related to a marijuana investigation; or
The income of the applicant’s household in the year before submitting the application did not exceed 50% of the average state income measured by the number of persons in the household, according to DEDO.
The Color of Cannabis – a local woman-owned business experienced in helping cannabis newcomers understand and navigate their way into the industry – has chosen DEDO as its program partner.

“We’re partnering with a local business, a local organization called Color of Cannabis, to provide a training program, a technical assistance program, for those entrepreneurs who want to get into this industry,” Chelsea Rosty said, Chief of Staff for the Denver Department of Economic Development and Opportunity. “This will provide them with a training program that goes through everything from financing to regulations to marketing to challenges within the space.”

“We are pleased to bring our commitment to greater ownership equity in the cannabis industry to this historic program,” Sarah Woodson said, CEO and founder of The Color of Cannabis. “We will serve several cohorts of small groups over the next year and surround them with advice, mentorship, information and encouragement.”

The cannabis social equity TA training includes 10 weeks of curriculum and covers topics such as cannabis industry history and policy, compliance, delivery, hospitality, marketing and best practices.

“As with any business startup, there is a significant learning curve for the tangible and intangible elements of business ownership. In partnership with The Color of Cannabis, we developed this rigorous curriculum to meet the unique needs of cannabis social equity candidates.” Jen Morris said, Executive Director DEDO. “It’s also important to us to reinvest our local marijuana sales tax dollars back into the community to level the playing field for wealth building within the industry.”

The program allows candidates for social equality deliver cannabis for three years (until July 1, 2024); also ensures that applicants have exclusive access to most cannabis licenses for six years (until 1 July 2027); waives application fees and reduces license fees for social capital applicants; and provides a free program to close certain low-level marijuana convictions.

The registration deadline is July 15 at 5 p.m., and the initial training session will take place on July 23 after the opening game on July 21 from 4 to 7 p.m.

“As part of our extensive social equity efforts in partnership with the cannabis industry, we are pleased to now fund free training for social equity candidates,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock he said. “Denver set the standard for successful cannabis regulation as the first city in America to legalize its sale. Creating and improving equal access for all to enter this industry, especially those disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, remains our priority.”

However, it is important to note that The program is funded by $500,000 in revenue from the City of Denver’s special marijuana sales tax.



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