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Colorado’s Cannabis Business Office to promote social equity

July 28, 2021 GMT
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis makes a point during a news conference Wednesday, July 7, 2021, to introduce the fifth and final $1-million winner in the state's vaccine lottery at the governor's mansion in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis makes a point during a news conference Wednesday, July 7, 2021, to introduce the fifth and final $1-million winner in the state's vaccine lottery at the governor's mansion in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis makes a point during a news conference Wednesday, July 7, 2021, to introduce the fifth and final $1-million winner in the state's vaccine lottery at the governor's mansion in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has announced the creation of a Cannabis Business Office to promote social equity, provide financial and technical assistance to entrepreneurs and create jobs in the state’s $2.2 billion marijuana industry.

The office was authorized by legislation passed during the Legislature’s 2021 session that provides an initial $4 million from the state’s marijuana cash tax fund for its operations.

In part, it will provide microloans and grants for seed money for capital and business expenses, as well as planning advice and other support for business owners, especially in economically disadvantaged areas. It will assist business owners, especially people of color, whose past marijuana arrests or convictions barred their entry into the industry.

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The office falls under the jurisdiction of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and Trade.

Pot remains illegal federally, which can make loans and other banking services difficult to find for those getting a foothold in the industry.

“The Cannabis Business Office shows our administration’s focus on growing this thriving industry that supports jobs and our economy,” the Democratic governor said in a statement Wednesday. “Where the federal government has fallen behind, Colorado will lead. Colorado is, and always has been, the best place to live, work, grow and sell cannabis.”

Colorado voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2012.