Another city in California just gave cannabis ex-convicts a leg up when it comes to starting a weed business. Sacramento, the capital of California, just passed a Cannabis Equity Program. By giving cannabis ex-convicts priority, this new program is working to undo the War on Drugs’ legacy in the state of California.
States Bar Ex-Convicts From Working In Legal Weed
In some states, it doesn’t matter that the crime someone committed is now no longer a crime. Just last year, a major Massachusetts medical cannabis dispensary campaigned to exclude cannabis ex-convicts from the medical weed industry.
The CEO of Patriot Care, the dispensary involved, wrote in a widely publicized letter: “Permitting those who have demonstrated the interest and willingness to ignore state and federal drug laws sends the wrong signals to those who would participate in the legal, regulated industry.”
Though the Massachusetts weed community has widely disparaged Patriot Care, many states still bar cannabis ex-convicts from working in—nevermind opening—their own weed businesses. This is still true in Alaska, Nevada and California. This essentially means that those who lost the most during the War on Drugs, notably Black and Latino communities, are barred from profiting from a major industry.
Sacramento’s Weed Industry No Longer Discriminates Against Ex-Convicts
Last week, the Sacramento City Council voted in favor of a Cannabis Equity Program. People who have committed non-violent weed crimes, or whose family members have, and people living in certain communities disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs qualify for the program.
The program offers significant benefits to its members, according to Sacramento’s report. First, they don’t have to pay weed business licensing fees, which are prohibitively expensive. They also get business development advice and lots of other benefits. This can mean help raising capital, getting loans, promoting on social media and employee training. They’ll also get mentorship on the nitty-gritty of running a weed business.
Regarding the program’s future, president of the California Urban Partnership Malaki Seku-Amen told KCRA, “We have a goal of having 50 percent of all licenses be awarded to those who were impacted by the war on drugs.”
Cities and States Redefining The War on Drugs’ Legacy
Sacramento just decided to waive fees for those affected by the War on Drugs and help them establish weed businesses. Hopefully, this embodies a movement towards recognizing that the War on Drugs still affects people’s employability, even after legalization.
Sacramento isn’t the first place to help cannabis ex-convicts join the industry. Massachusetts launched the nation’s first cannabis equity program. Additionally, in Los Angeles and San Francisco ex-convicts can have their non-violent weed crime records expunged. Conceivably, California, the world’s largest recreational weed market, will follow suit.