Californian Governor Jerry Brown recently signed the California Cannabis Equity Act (SB 1294) which authorizes the use of $10 million in state funds to support the well-known cannabis social equity programs. The program is meant for community members who were highly affected by the War on Drugs that are willing to be part of the legal cannabis industry of California. The funds will be used to provide equity applicants and licensee’s business loans or grants, disclaimers for licensing fees, technical support, and more.
Social equity programs have already been established in cities such as Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Francisco. According to State Senator Steven Bradford who led SB 1294, the strategy will facilitate the expansion of the efforts from the municipal equity.
Bradford said that there are currently no state programs which addresses hindrances and barriers faced by those who want to become part of the marijuana industry. If people of different races who are financially capable are facing issues in acquiring licenses, then there will be problems faced by individuals with zero capital and past criminal records.
The note from SB 1294 reviews a few some of the inconsistency in the implementation of cannabis prohibition laws in California.
The new law states that during the period of cannabis prohibition in California, the worries that come from arrests, convictions, and resulting effects that arise from convicting a person was mostly affected by Black and Latinx people, although people of all colors consume and offered marijuana at similar rates. Data from the Californian Justice Department illustrates that from 2006 to 2015, Black Californians had a high probability to get arrested for the use of cannabis and a high chance of being convicted for cannabis-related crimes in contrast to White Californians. During that era, Latinx Californians also had a high probability of being arrested for cannabis crimes than White Californians.
According to the law, this inequity in the establishment of drug laws constantly impacts communities and individuals already facing social injustice.
The law further states that the effects linked with the violations in cannabis laws merged with generational poverty and absence of assets, deems it impossible for individuals with past convictions to be part of the newly regulated industry.
According to Bradford, this new law will ensure that all inhabitants of California will have the opportunity to make profits from cannabis legalization.
When voters approved Proposition 64, which legalizes the adult-use of cannabis, the state of California will begin to reap the economic benefits of the booming cannabis industry. This has made people question about those who have previous cannabis convictions and the communities that went through traumatic impacts from the war on drugs. SB 1294 is set to review these problems and ensure that individuals who wish to take part have equal chances to join and thrive in the growing industry.
According to a statement from Rodney Holcombe, a member of the office of legal affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, the Californian Cannabis Equity Act will ensure that different cities will join those who have installed social equity programs.
Holcombe said that the passaging of SB 1294 is a vital progression toward the establishment of an equal cannabis industry in California. The bill from Senator Bradford will help local programs which reduce the barriers to ownership and ensure the longevity of cannabis businesses.