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MARIJUANA EQUITY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

Denver developed a multi-pronged approach to ensuring that communities who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs can benefit from the legalization of marijuana. Mayor Hancock's Cannabis Social Equity work includes exploring a variety of tactics including the continued use of marijuana tax revenue to support low and moderate-income neighborhoods, obtaining data related to the marijuana industry, vacating low-level marijuana convictions and identifying areas of need in workforce development and licensing ownership and entrepreneurship.

Denver is taking a large share of marijuana tax revenue to address marijuana equity issues - and addressing holistically - not assuming one size fits all when addressing ills of 50-year war on drugs.  To date, Denver’s multi-pronged approach has included:

Turn Over a New Leaf Program

  • Denver created a free program to clear and seal low-level marijuana convictions. 
  • 430 applications for Denver’s free Turn Over a New Leaf Program has resulted in 66 convictions being identified as eligible for the program.  
  • Denver held 5 clinics and invested more than $25,000 in City resources to create the program, staff clinics, and promote the program through community outreach, media relations and digital communications.

Stakeholder Engagement

  • Denver has convened a diverse group of volunteers to gather community and marijuana industry input on the City’s long-term plan to support a highly successful social equity program.

Best Practices

  • Denver is the only known city in America hosting a national marijuana regulator conference with a panel dedicated to social equity.
  • Government regulators and law enforcement will share ideas and successes in helping those disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.

Marijuana Tax Revenue

  • A portion of marijuana taxes helped Denver double affordable housing fund from $15 million to $30 million to build more than 6,000 units, which supports housing for many people including those who have been economically disadvantaged due to the failed war on drugs.
  • $9.3 million of the funds dedicated to affordable housing in 2019 are from Denver’s special recreational marijuana tax.
  • Denver is dedicating $3.59 million dollars in 2019 from Denver’s special sales tax on recreational marijuana, to fund free after-school and summer programs for youth, with a focus on underserved communities. This education funding also includes support for diversion programs, with a high focus on high-need areas in Denver.
  • Marijuana tax dollars are helping to upgrade parks and recreation centers in Denver, including the opening of Denver’s first truly urban style recreation center called the Carla Madison Recreation Center in 2018. Funding for this recreation center included $3.2 million from marijuana tax proceeds.

  • Continue using marijuana tax dollars to help people who were disproportionally impacted by the war on drugs and marginalized communities in general.
  • Through a public RFP process, obtain a comprehensive data report about employment in the marijuana industry separated by ethnicity, race, gender, gender identity and other criteria.  This will allow the City to truly understand the scope of the marijuana industry diversity problem and help more people disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs receive the benefit of increased economic opportunities because of marijuana legalization.
  • Decrease barriers to entry in the marijuana industry by exploring financial, technical, and criminal justice support.
  • Identify opportunities with new and opening marijuana licenses to ensure more diversity in the marijuana industry and its ancillary business.
  • Create a workforce development tool for those interested in beginning a career in the marijuana industry that would allow for training and professional development.
  • Explore ways to help close the gap for MWBE who wish to enter in the marijuana industry as well as attract, retain and expand MWBE business.
  • Insert marijuana in Denver’s trade missions, allowing promotion of industry investment on a national and international level. 

 

CANNABIS EQUITY COMMUNITY COMMITTEE

Denver has convened a diverse group of volunteers to gather community and marijuana industry input on the City’s long-term plan to support a highly successful social equity program. If you would like to be included in this committee, please send an email to MarijuanaInfo@denvergov.org

 

CONTACT US

Webb Municipal Office Building 
201 W. Colfax Ave., Dept. 206 
Denver, CO 80202 
Phone: Call 311  
MarijuanaInfo@denvergov.org

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