The city of Oakland is trying to make it up to people that were affected by old anti-pot laws in the days before legalization-by offering former convicts a chance to get their legal cannabis businesses off the ground. Under the Equity Permit Program, those convicted of pot-related crimes before legalization took hold of California will be given fifty percent of all such business licenses.
And that’s not all. There are six neighborhoods within Oakland that have been heavily impacted by pot prohibition, and were frequently targeted by law enforcement agencies. Individuals living within these six neighborhoods will join convicts in having a first chance at one of these licenses.
In this day and age of expanding acceptance for America’s favorite plant, the laws are rapidly changing to reflect modern attitudes about it. But Oakland city officials are not forgetting about the state’s and the country’s sordid past when it came to prohibition enforcement. They seem quite intent on righting the wrongs that were made, back when any amount of pot was an offense that faced arrest.
“I believe it’s an attempt not to perpetuate some of the inequities we’ve seen here locally and also in other states,” says Assistant to the City Administrator Greg Minor.
Progressively and over the past two decades, California has been looked to as a progressive leader for cannabis legalization. The state legalized medical cannabis in 1996, and then in 2004 a new law was passed to give cities and other municipalities the right to create their own rules for how-and if-these businesses will operate within their borders. And last fall, Californians voted to approve legalization of adult-use cannabis, recreational pot for those twenty-one years of age and older.
As California prepares for full-blown legalization, the state and individual cities have been charged with the responsibility of forming the regulations and policies that will shape the industry. Oakland officials are hopeful that the creation of these all-new policies will help to combat the damage done by the prohibition of the past.
While true criminal justice reform may yet be out of reach, the decisions made by Oakland city officials are expected to be a heavy step in the right direction.
Photo by bloomsberries