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Business Sense: Cannabis and social equity – Eureka Times-Standard

At a time when social and racial justice issues are quite literally screaming for attention, Humboldt County finds itself creating the first ever Social Equity program for its cannabis industry. And make no mistake, cannabis is an industry with both social and racial justice issues to consider. Current events weighed heavy on my mind as the Project Trellis Advisory Committee met this past Tuesday to discuss how to disperse grant funding allocated from the Bureau of Cannabis Control to its Local Equity Program grant recipients.

Hannah Joy

Project Trellis has three components: Micro-Grants, Social Equity, and Marketing. The Advisory Committee recently came together to make recommendations for business grants, funds for which came from Measure S diversion (taxes on cannabis cultivators given back to cannabis businesses). The application review for the micro-grant division of funding considered business structure and viability as well as eligibility factors such as amount of square footage of cultivation and how long an owner has lived in Humboldt.

Unlike the business grants, the social equity funds are specifically for those who have been disproportionately affected by prohibition. To help create applications for this process, I will be taking a look at the Equity Assessment created by The California Center for Rural Policy and the Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research, which you can find on the Project Trellis homepage. This assessment examines what social equity means to us behind the Redwood Curtain. I found it interesting, and awful, to read about eradication tactics carried out by organizations such as CAMP, including targeting community support systems and using “the broad criminalization of drugs to selectively repress political dissidents and people of color”. While Humboldt County demographics (US Census Bureau) are 83.4% white, we absolutely must not forget that criminalization of marijuana landed heavily at the feet of those in communities of color. Honestly, I am unsure how to even begin to address our Native populations in this regard; surely these marginalized communities are owed a vast social equity debt. This is an extremely complex and multi-layered issue that deserves much consideration.

Legalization has only partially affected change in this area, and the repercussions are still being felt. Enforcement policies have led to economic injustices, criminalization still affects black and brown communities disproportionately, and our cannabis business operators often find themselves lacking in adequate resources to navigate the very rigorous regulatory system.

I am pleased to be a part of a project like Trellis in the interest of a thriving economy for all Humboldt residents. As a local, cannabis has always been a part of the world to which I was accustomed. It was essential in Humboldt long before Covid-19 prompted that official stamp of recognition. But it is only recently that I have begun to fully realize the unique position of what we have to offer the world. The craft cannabis produced here claimed international renown before any public marketing actually took place. From a business standpoint this demands consideration.

Trellis grant funds clearly will only go so far, and there are many other ways to tackle social and racial justice issues. It is my hope that Humboldt becomes known not only for our legacy of world class cannabis products, but also for the ways we take on and grow through these unique challenges, in solidarity.

Hannah Joy is a Humboldt local, owner at NorCal Perfect Bar, DIO with DewPoint, member of the Project Trellis Micro-Grant and Loan Advisory Committee, and wannabe urban homesteader. Feel welcome to contact her at humboldthannah@gmail.com with your thoughts on social equity in the Emerald Triangle.

Written by homegrownreview

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