More than $1.7 million in awards have been given out by California officials to support environmentally friendly marijuana growth methods and help producers get their yearly licenses.
Through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Cannabis Restoration Grant Program, this is the first round of funding for the Qualified Cultivator Grant Program (CRGP). Grants are given to deserving non-profit organizations, governments, and tribes, which can then allocate the money to specific grower applicants.
The initiative, which was initially announced in August 2021 and is still accepting applications as of April 2023, will distribute a total of $6 million.
The incentives are intended to enhance environmental sustainability in the cannabis industry in addition to helping farmers with processing and paying for yearly license. They may be used, for instance, to support restoration initiatives and improve water conservation.
With an emphasis on land restoration and conservation on marijuana farms around the state, the cultivation certification group Sun+Earth earned $395,643 for planning purposes and to grow their operations.
$1,388,181 was given to the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District for water conservation initiatives in the South Fork Eel River Watershed. Three rainwater collecting systems will be installed, irrigation infrastructure will be upgraded, invasive species will be managed, and native, “pollinator-friendly flora” will be introduced.
Acting Cannabis Program Director Sarah Paulson stated in a news release that “These are well-conceived and timely planning initiatives that will result in enduring benefits for fish and wildlife resources and the ecosystems they depend on for survival.” Supporting these organizations will assist protect California’s natural resources and open doors for upcoming cannabis growers in the regulated market.
Three phases make up the qualified cultivator program: consultation to create license and conservation plans, pre-application to ascertain eligibility, and finally the complete application.
The state of California has invested a lot of money in promoting the legalization of marijuana, with certain projects being paid for by tax money from cannabis sales.
For example, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a wide-ranging bill this month to restructure the state’s marijuana market, including by eliminating a cannabis cultivation tax, in an effort to provide industry relief and further curtail the illicit market. AB 195 builds upon an amended budget proposal that the governor unveiled in May.
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The key provisions going into effect eliminate the marijuana cultivation tax and shift the point of collection and remittance for the separate 15 percent excise tax on cannabis sales from the distribution to retail level. Additionally, there will be no increase in the excise tax for at least three years under the proposal, which is expected to be signed by the governor and then take effect immediately.
Also, the new law includes a $20 million one-time grant program to support the development and implementation of local retail licensing efforts. That’s an important component that’s meant to help reduce the cannabis policy gap throughout California, where more than half of the state’s cities and counties do not allow any type of cannabis licensees to operate in their area.
Relatedly, state officials launched a new resource in May, providing people with an interactive map showing where marijuana businesses are permitted—and where they are blocked from opening—throughout the state.
Last week, regulators also announced last week that they are soliciting input on proposed rules to standardize cannabis testing methods in the state—an effort that they hope will stop marijuana businesses from “laboratory shopping” to find facilities that are more likely to show higher THC concentrations that they can then boast for their products.
Meanwhile, California officials are distributing another round of community reinvestment grants totaling $35.5 million with tax revenue generated from recreational marijuana sales.
The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) announced last month that they’ve awarded 78 grants to organizations throughout the state that will support economic and social development in communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.
The amount of funding and number of recipients increased from last year’s levels, when the state awarded about $29 million in grants to 58 nonprofit organizations through the CalCRG program.
California has taken in nearly $4 billion in marijuana tax revenue since the state’s adult-use market launched in 2018, the Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) reported late last month. And for the first quarter of 2022, the state saw about $294 million in cannabis revenue generated from the excise, cultivation and sales tax on marijuana.
The state collected about $817 million in adult-use marijuana tax revenue during the last fiscal year. That represented 55 percent more cannabis earnings for state coffers than was generated in the 2020-2021 period.
California officials also announced in January that the state had awarded $100 million in funding to help develop local marijuana markets, in part by getting cannabis businesses fully licensed.