California is trying to make major strides toward evening the playing field of the cannabis industry. Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill last week that will give assistance to people who have been affected negatively by the drug war and poverty.

The California Cannabis Equity Act will essentially prioritize people who might otherwise be at a disadvantage to get started in the cannabis business. An initial $10 million in funding has been provided for grants, which will be distributed to cities beginning next year.

The money will be used to offset the expenses of starting a new legal cannabis. These can be especially burdensome to someone with a criminal history who isn’t able to secure a bank loan.

Qualifying factors for ade from the fund include, as per Leafly:

  • “Demonstrably linked to populations and neighborhoods that were negatively and disproportionately impacted by cannabis-related criminalization.
  • “Was previously arrested or convicted of a cannabis-related charge.
  • “Resides in a ZIP Code or census tract with higher than average unemployment, crime, or child death rates.
  • “Attended a low performing K-12 school in or near a federal poverty area for at least four grade levels.
  • “Is economically disadvantaged with an income below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and has a net worth below $250,000.”

Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), the bill’s author, said that he sees its passing as a turning point for the state. “The signing of SB 1294 recognizes the failed efforts of the war on drugs, but more importantly, it highlights the disproportionate devastation cannabis criminalization has had on communities and helps address the harms by reducing barriers to licensure and increasing opportunities for employment,” Senator Bradford said in a statement.

“This bill will aid in the development of a safer and healthier cannabis industry that benefits all Californians.”

Photo via Flickr user Weed Streetwear