Social Equity

Social Equity Definition / Criteria

  • i. Previous Cannabis Conviction:
  • ii. Income:
  • iii. State Residency:
  • iv. Qualifying Neighborhood / Municipal Residency:

Within the adult-use framework, Colorado has a social equity program that is open to Colorado residents who have not previously had a cannabis license revoked and who meet one of the following criteria.

  1. The Applicant resided for at least 15 years between the years 1980 and 2010 in a census tract designated by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade as an Opportunity Zone or designated as a “Disproportionate Impacted Area”;
  2. The Applicant or Applicant’s parent, legal guardian, sibling, spouse, child, or minor in their guardianship was arrested for a marijuana offense, convicted of a marijuana offense, or was subject to civil asset forfeiture related to a marijuana investigation; or
  3. The Applicant’s household income in a year prior to application did not exceed 50% of the state median income as measured by the number of people who reside in the Applicant’s household.

Additionally, Social Equity Licensees must hold at least 51% ownership in their business.

Social Equity Provisions

Within Colorado’s adult use program the state offers social equity applicants benefits such as access to the marijuana entrepreneur fund which provides SE licensees with loans grants and technical assistance. Social Equity Licensees participating in Colorado’s accelerator program receive technical compliance and/or capital assistance pursuant to an equity partnership agreement between the Accelerator-Endorsed Licensee and the Accelerator Licensee. 

Examples of the types of assistance an Accelerator-Endorsed Licensee can provide a Accelerator Licensee, include but are not limited to: accounting, business services (e.g. sales and marketing), financial or capital support, information technology support and regulatory compliance support.

License Priorities and Set Asides

  • License Priorities / Set Asides:

At the state level, Colorado reserves all micro-business licenses for social equality operators. At the state level, social equity operators do not receive any other set asides or licensing priority, however municipalities like Denver offer social equity priority for delivery permits.

Fee Waivers and Reductions

  • Fee Waivers / Reductions:

Colorado does not offer state level fee waivers or reductions. Any fee waivers/reductions would be offered at the local level in cities such as Denver who offer that benefit.

Other Financial Support for Social Equity Applicants and Licensees

Colorado’s Program will receive an initial $4 million from the marijuana entrepreneur fund which is derived from the cannabis tax fund which is derived from sales and excise taxes. Funds were not distributed to support the program before the issuance of the state’s first adult use licenses. First funds were distributed in  2021 through the Office of Economic Development.