The city of Oakland is attempting to make up for harm caused by older anti-weed laws. Under a new program, Oakland will give marijuana convicts the first chance to open legal weed businesses.
Oakland Gives Marijuana Convicts First Chance To Open Legal Weed Businesses
According to the National Post, the bill is the first of its kind. The plan is called the Equity Permit Program. It will set aside 50 percent of cannabis business licenses in Oakland for previous felons. In particular, they will be available to felons who were punished under older, harsher laws against weed.
Additionally, the program will extend to people living in certain parts of the city. Six neighborhoods have been identified as places that were heavily targeted under past anti-weed laws. People who live in those neighborhoods will also have the first chance at getting a license.
The Oakland City Council voted unanimously to put the program into place. According to Greg Minor, Assistant to Oakland’s City Administrator, the program is a step in the right direction. “I believe it’s an attempt not to perpetuate some of the inequities we’ve seen here locally and also in other states,” he said.
But one possible problem with the program is that it has a complicated application process. Minor said the city will come up with a revised process later this year.
Final Hit: A Step Toward Reform
Medical cannabis has been legal in California since 1996. In 2004, a new law was passed that gave cities the power to make their own rules for licensing cannabis businesses. On top of that, Californians voted to legalize recreational weed last fall. As with medical marijuana, city governments are allowed to set some of the rules for how recreational weed will work.
Oakland’s new program is taking advantage of this. In particular, city lawmakers are hoping the program will help fix some of the harm caused by older, more punitive cannabis laws. And although the problem hasn’t been eradicated totally, this move is certainly a step in the right direction.
In the past, several celebrities and well-known weed advocates have come out in favor of releasing petty weed-related felons from prison. For example, last December rapper Pusha T released a PSA about weed laws. In it, he demanded prison reforms that would reduce the penalties imposed on weed felons. While such prison reform may still be a distant possibility, Oakland’s new program could be a step in that direction.