This page will serve as a repository for the various programs and resources available under the CCB's social equity and economic empowerment programs.
“Social equity applicant” means a cannabis license applicant that meets at least one of these criteria:
- They are Black or Hispanic, or
- They are from a community that has historically been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition and are able to demonstrate to the Board that they were personally harmed by that impact.
- They have been incarcerated for a cannabis related offense or have a family member that has been incarcerated for a cannabis related offense
- No previous Vermont residency is required, but applicant must currently reside in Vermont.
Applicants who do not meet the criteria for the Board’s social equity program, but still come from historically disadvantaged communities may be considered economic empowerment candidates. The Board will prioritize reviewing license applications from these applicants over non-social equity and economic empowerment applicants.
Economic empowerment applicant businesses must be at least 51% owned by a member of a historically disadvantaged community. Those communities include:
- People with disabilities
- Members of the LGBTQIA+ community
- First Nation/Indigenous/Native Americans
- Asian American / Pacific Islander
- Other communities of color not explicitly named in the social equity program.
By statute, only Social Equity applicants have access to technical assistance and grant funding through the Cannabis Business Development Fund.
License fees for the first five years of a social equity applicant's licensure follow the below schedule:
- Year 1: Full waiving of application and license fee
- Year 2: Licensee pays 25% of fee
- Year 3: Licensee pays 50% of fee
- Year 4: Licensee pays 75% of fee
- Year 5: Licensee pays full fee
ONLY social equity applicants are subject to the above fee reduction schedule.
Legislative reports on the Board's social equity program, as well as the final recommendations of the Advisory Sub-Committee on Social Equity are available on our Reports and Recommendations page.
The State of Vermont offers programs outside of the Cannabis Control Board which may help applicants or licensees grow their business or offer technical assistance: State of Vermont Resources for Social Equity and Economic Empowerment Candidates
Other Resources for Social Equity or Economic Empowerment Candidates
Cannabis Business Development Fund
The Cannabis Business Development Fund was established by Act 62 (2021) in order to provide low-interest loans and grants to social equity applicants for the purposes of paying for the expenses associated with starting and operating a licensed cannabis establishment.
The Vermont legislature allocated $500,000 to the Cannabis Business Development Fund. Additional funding for this program comes from contributions made by integrated licensees. Other licensees with businesses hiring 2 or more employees may opt to contribute to the Fund as a part of their required positive impact criteria for licensure as outlined in Board Rule 1.4.9
The fund is administered by the Agency for Commerce and Community Development. More information about the fund will be available soon.
By statute, only social equity applicants have access to the technical assistance and grant funding provided through the Cannabis Business Development Fund.
Peer-to-Peer Mentorship & Support
As mentioned above, businesses hiring more than two employees may opt to contribute financially to the Business Development Fund as a part of their required positive impact criteria in Board Rule 1.4.9. However, there are additional opportunities outside of the Fund within Rule 1.4.9 for women, minorities, and others disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition to find support for developing their cannabis business.
As a part of their positive impact criteria, larger businesses may adopt a small business incubator program which may include (but is not limited to):
- Providing grants or other access to capital
- Creating workforce re-entry programming or training
- Providing cultivation, manufacturing, or retail space within their larger business
- Providing management training, or other forms of industry-specific technical training
- Creating mentorship opportunities from experts.
Applicants or licensees who wish to be connected to an incubator business should email CCB.Info@vermont.gov
Other peer mentorship opportunities are in development and will be posted soon.