‘Project Trellis’ graphic.




County government’s newest committee — the Cannabis Micro-grant and Loan Advisory Committee — had its first meeting yesterday, and members spent the time outlining the bylaws and structure of the committee, electing the officials, and generally getting ready to give out cash.

The committee will oversee the loan and grant process for businesses and individuals seeking assistance in the cannabis industry. Its main function, according to its establishing resolution, is to “announce, review, rank and select applications for micro-grant and loan monies” and to make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors, which then doles out the funds.

The committee is part of Project Trellis, and it has seven members. Jim Groeling represents District 1, Thomas Mulder represents District 2, Hollie Hall represents District 3, Richard Marks represents District 4, Sarah Bolster represents District 5 and Richard Ames and Hannah Joy are the two at-large members.

The first meeting focused on outlining how the committee will run. The members elected the chair — Richard Ames — and the vice chair — Thomas Mulder — and delegated all secretary duties to Office of Economic Development staff. The members will serve for four years at a time, but three of the seven members will serve two-year terms at first in order to allow staggered appointments thus ensuring there will always be veteran members on the committee — Groeling, Mulder, and Marks were the three randomly selected to serve the two-year terms.

The committee has an operating budget of approximately $290,000 for micro-grants and loans that come from 10 percent of the cannabis excise tax and through funding from SB 1294 — the California Cannabis Equity Act — that helps to right the wrongs of the War on Drugs. Scott Adair, director of the Office of Economic Development, said when Project Trellis was started it was solely focused on business grants, but when SB 1294 passed Adair said they had to refigure Project Trellis to incorporate grants for individuals.

“The equity grant is to help overcome a past injustice a person may have suffered from the War on Drugs,” Adair told the Outpost.

The committee will have three meetings per year, once they establish their bylaws. The first meeting will feature an announcement for people to start applying for the grants and loans. The second meeting will have application presentations and review; and the third will be where the rankings selections take place.

“The committee wants to approve all documents by September 4 and on September 9 announce the fund is open to start receiving applications to review,” Adair said. “They declared they want to see the Notification of Funding Availability go out to the public on September 9.”

Thomas Mulder, vice chair of the committee, grew up working in the cannabis industry. He said he used to hide from helicopters flying over grows as a kid.

“It is different openly talking about the industry,” Mulder told the Outpost. “I feel that a lot of the people that blazed the trail have had a hard time getting all the through the permit process.

I have a lot of knowledge about the industry and I thought I would be a good fit so that the money goes to the right people.”

For the past decade Mulder has volunteered for the Southern Humboldt Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees, where he said he gained relevant experience for his new position on the committee. He said it has been great watching the county evolve over the past four to five years and how farmers, government officials and the environmentally conscience have come together to work towards making a better Humboldt.

“I think it is great the county has decided to take money and reinvest it in the community,” Mulder said. “Any money spent helps to build up the local community.”