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Cannabis Business Assistance Fund

The Cannabis Business Assistance Loan/Grant Fund (CBAF) is a financing resource operated by the Maryland Department of Commerce (Commerce), to provide grants and loans for small businesses, including small, minority-owned and small women-owned businesses entering the adult-use cannabis industry. CBAF also provides grants to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for cannabis-related programs and to business development organizations, including incubators, to train and assist small businesses, including minority and women business owners and entrepreneurs, seeking to become licensed to participate in the adult-use cannabis industry.

Eligible Use of Funds

  1. Grants or loans to small businesses, including small, minority–owned or small women–owned businesses, for:
    • License application assistance for participation in the adult–use cannabis industry;
    • Assistance with the operating or capital expenses of a business participating in the adult–use cannabis industry; or
    • Targeted training to support participation in the adult–use cannabis industry
  2. Grants to historically black colleges and universities for cannabis–related programs and to business development organizations, including incubators, to train and assist small, minority, and women business owners and entrepreneurs seeking to become licensed to participate in the adult–use cannabis industry.

Current Funding Opportunity – Social Equity License Application Assistance Reimbursement Grant

Cannabis business license applicants were strongly encouraged to utilize the technical resources available at no cost through the Office of Social Equity and Maryland Cannabis Administration.  More information on these free resources can be found here.

To the extent that additional assistance completing the application was needed, applicants may apply for a reimbursable grant to fund 50% of eligible expenses up to $5,000.  Please note that grants are taxable.

The License Application Assistance Reimbursement Grant, part of the CBAF program, is available to qualified applicants seeking assistance with the costs of completing a cannabis business license application.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis beginning February 19, 2024.

Applicants must be a Social Equity applicant as determined by the Office of Social Equity.

Applicants must have applied for a cannabis business license which has met the minimum qualifications as set by the Maryland Cannabis Administration.


ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

To be eligible for a grant, your business must meet all of the following requirements:

    • Be an existing business in good standing with the State of Maryland.
    • Have completed and submitted a Social Equity Cannabis Business License application that has met the minimum qualifications as set by the Maryland Cannabis Administration.
    • Small Business Qualification - Applicant must be a small business, defined as an entity with 0-50 employees per license.
    • Personal Net Worth Qualification – The business must be at least 51% owned by individuals whose personal net worth does not exceed $1.7 million. For the purposes of this program, net worth is defined as: the value of the assets of an individual remaining after total liabilities are deducted including the individual’s assets held jointly or as community property with the individual’s spouse. Net worth does not include:
        • The individuals’ ownership interest in the applicant;
        • The individual’s equity in the individual’s primary place or residence; or
        • The cash value of any qualified retirement savings plans or individual retirement accounts.

    Examples of expenses qualifying for reimbursement include out-of-pocket-costs associated with attorneys, certified public accountants, financial advisors and other providers of technical assistance completing the cannabis business license application:

    • Consultant or advisory fees associated with writing a business plan, an operational plan and a detailed diversity plan
    • Advisory costs on forming the business and determining its structure (e.g. LLC, partnership, s-corporation or other type of business entity)
    • Language translation costs incurred in completing the application

    The following costs are not eligible for reimbursement under the program, and cannot be considered: The cannabis business license application fee, and other state business filing fees and taxes, personal time writing the application, market analysis and other feasibility studies, equipment and other capital costs, lease and other security deposits, legal retainer fees, rent and interest expense, working capital costs such as inventory, marketing, payroll, rent, and utilities, dividends to owner(s).

              APPLICATION PROCESS

              Applications will be accepted through a web-based portal on a rolling basis beginning February 19, 2024. The deadline to apply for a grant for application assistance is March 20, 2024.

              For applications to be considered the information listed below must be provided.  Applicants should work with their advisor(s) in completing the application.  Incomplete applications cannot be considered.

              Required Application Documents:

              Applicants for License Application Assistance need to register for access to the application portal with the Department of Commerce.  The application portal opens February 19, 2024. 

              Prior to entering the application portal, applicants should have the following items readily available:

              • A list of owners meeting the personal net worth qualification and the percentage of ownership for each of those qualifying individuals. Each of those individuals are required to submit a Schedule of Personal Net Worth with this application.
              • Statement of Personal Net Worth
              • Completed W9
              • Evidence of Good Standing with the State - Good Standing can be determined on the Maryland Business Express website. A screenshot of the results will suffice, a formal certificate of good standing is not required.
              • Copies of invoices detailing services rendered and proof of payment for eligible expenses to be reimbursed.

              Incomplete applications cannot be processed.

              Apply Now

              TERMS

              • There are no fees or costs to apply for a grant from the Fund.  However, please note that grants are taxable.
              • Grants will be provided to applicants upon approval.  Applicants who do not comply with the intended purpose of a grant are subject to repayment of the grant in full.
              • Grantees are subject to random audit for compliance with the intended purpose of the grant.

              Future Funding Opportunities

              Future rounds of funding will be offered to assist small, minority and women-owned businesses entering the adult-use cannabis industry, including funding to assist with license application and operating or capital expenses; as well as grants Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for cannabis-related programs, and to business development organizations, including incubators, to train and assist small businesses, including minority and women business owners and entrepreneurs, seeking to become licensed to participate in the adult-use cannabis industry.

              Resources for Cannabis Businesses

               
              Authorizing legislation: Chapters 245 & 255, Acts of 2023


              CONTACT

              Questions about the Cannabis Business Assistance Fund should be directed to cannabis.financing@maryland.gov. A member of the Commerce team will respond to your inquiry in a timely manner.

              Questions about the Cannabis Licensing application should be directed to policy.mmcc@maryland.gov.