Cannabis Social Equity Technical Assistance

Because of federal cannabis prohibition, cannabis businesses often cannot obtain a traditional bank loan for startup costs, and owners of cannabis businesses cannot deduct their business expenses on their taxes as a typical entrepreneur can. Access to the industry is thus limited to individuals who have capital to invest or alternative resources for startup funds, and substantial industry-specific technical knowledge is critical to business success.

Recognizing these barriers, the City and County of Denver is extending its social equity efforts by providing training to aspiring social equity cannabis entrepreneurs. Through this program, the city hopes to set standards for equitable access to this billion-dollar industry for all. 


This program is specifically designed to boost ownership among individuals disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement. Funded by $500,000 of the city's cannabis sales tax revenues, the program seeks to train and elevate Denver residents who meet the State of Colorado's definition of a social equity applicant in the cannabis industry.  

The 10-week curriculum will include subject matter experts on topics such as the history and politics of the industry, compliance, delivery, and hospitality as well as marketing and best practices.

The city has contracted The Color of Cannabis, a local organization experienced in helping cannabis newcomers understand and navigate entry into the industry, to facilitate implementation of the program. 


Following the state definition of a social equity applicant, Denver is seeking aspiring social equity cannabis entrepreneur applicants who meet at least one of the following criteria:

  1. Resided for at least 15 years between the years 1980 and 2010 in a census tract designated as an Opportunity Zone or Disproportionate Impacted Area; or
  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 a civil asset forfeiture related to a marijuana investigation; or
  3. The applicant’s household income in the year prior to application did not exceed 50% of the state’s median income as measured by the number of persons in the household.


  • As of June 1, the program is accepting applications for its Final Cohort
  • The deadline to apply is Saturday, July 1
  • Starting June 1, submit your application via the online portal
  • Classes begin July 15!


This free program is designed to boost ownership among individuals disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement. The 10-week accelerator includes: 

  • History of Cannabis 
  • Knowing Your Regulators 
  •  Compliance Training 
  •  Facility Tours 
  •  Licensing 
  •  Funding & Capital 
  •  Business Development