Linda Grant sold weed in the streets of East Oakland for 35 years before California legalized marijuana in 2016. She’s been “going through hell” trying to open a licensed business ever since.

Five years and two frustrating partnerships later, Grant still has to get a loan to pay for a business storefront before she can even apply for a license to operate. “It’s just ridiculous,” Grant said. “So much heartache, so much pain.”

The process is daunting: business plans, tax returns, seed money. Even with state programs designed to close the gap, experts and advocates say the cost of entry and long list of requirements are still keeping people of color and low-income applicants from entering the state’s lucrative legal market.

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