California Seeking Applicants For $48M In Marijuana Tax-Funded Community Reinvestment Grants

California nonprofits and local health departments can soon apply for an estimated $48 million worth of community reinvestment grants, which are paid for by tax revenue from legal marijuana.

Organizations will be able to request awards of between $600,000 and $3 million to support job placement, legal assistance, treatment of mental health and substance use disorders, referrals to medical care and other services for communities that have been disproportionately affected by the drug war.

Applications for the forthcoming round of California Community Reinvestment Grants (CalCRG) will be accessible through an online portal beginning on Monday.

Half of the $48 million pool is earmarked for smaller community nonprofits that average $5 million or less in annual revenue. The other half will be available to all other community-based nonprofit organizations as well as local health departments.

The grants are intended to cover “programmatic needs consistent with their approved budget and work plan,” according to the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), which administers the program.

To be eligible, a nonprofit must be at least six months old, have a physical address in California, be tax-exempt at the state and federal levels, be registered as active with the secretary of state and be appropriately certified to provide the proposed services.

Because the program is intended to invest in communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs, the proposed services must serve communities within any of the following geographic areas:

Counties with a per capita drug arrest rate higher than the state’s rate. These include Alameda, Alpine, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Lake, Los Angeles, Mendocino, Merced, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Solano, Stanislaus, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Yolo and Yuba.
Census tracts ranking in the top 25 percent of the state for civilian unemployment and poverty.
Census tracts ranking in the top 25 percent of the state for one-parent or nonfamily households.
Census tracts ranking in the bottom 25 percent for high-school graduation rates.
Census tracts designated in California as Opportunity Zones, which have comparatively high poverty rates and low median incomes.

Grants can reimburse 100 percent of personnel costs associated with providing services. Training, equipment and all other direct costs are reimbursed at a rate of 50 percent. Indirect costs, meanwhile, may not exceed 17 percent of the total award.

The coming round of CalCRG grants will mark the sixth consecutive year of the program. This past spring, GO-Biz awarded more than $50 million in reinvestment grants, with funding going to organizations such as Goodwill of the San Francisco Bay, Uncommon Law, the Los Angeles Conservation Corps and health departments in Los Angeles and Monterey counties.

Funding levels for the program have been consistently increasing year over year. In 2021, for example, the state awarded about $29 million in grants to 58 nonprofit organizations through the CalCRG program. The initiative was first announced in April 2020.

Legalization in California has created a number of new grant programs aimed at addressing the consequences of marijuana prohibition and attempting to nurture a strong, well-regulated legal industry.

In June, state regulators at the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) announced the award of $4.1 million to 18 local governments through a first-of-its-kind program to support cannabis business licensing programs and curb the illicit market.

DCC also recently awarded nearly $20 million in research grants, funded by marijuana tax revenue, to 16 academic institutions to carry out studies into cannabis—including novel cannabinoids like delta-8 THC and the genetics of the state’s numerous “legacy” strains.

And in February, California officials announced the award of $15 million in grants to support local efforts to promote equity in the marijuana industry. GO-Biz distributed the funds to 16 cities and counties across the state through the Cannabis Equity Grants Program for Local Jurisdictions. Applications opened for the program late last year.

A state task force has also officially recommended that the legislature pass reparations legislation to compensate about two million Black Americans with a total of nearly $228 billion for racially disproportionate harms that resulted from the war on drugs in the state over the course of a half-century.

A number of other states to have legalized marijuana also funnel a portion of tax revenue into community reinvestment, focusing especially on groups disproportionately impacted by the drug war.

Last year, for example, Illinois paid out $45 million in grants under its Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) program, which was established under the state’s adult-use cannabis legalization law, to 148 programs run by organizations operating on relatively small budgets in communities designated as socioeconomically disadvantaged.

Arizona, meanwhile, sets aside 10 percent of marijuana tax revenue for a justice redevelopment fund, which funds public health services, counseling, job training and other social services for communities that have been adversely affected by marijuana arrests and criminalization. Applications for the state’s first round of grants under that program became available in March.

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Photo courtesy of California State Fair.

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