- 0 Comments
September 28, 2018, California
At the time of ratification of the blanket legalization, California legislature promised to introduce social equity program in order support all those who are badly affected by the war on drugs in entering the unique new legal cannabis commercial space. Gov. Jerry Brown has finally materialized that promise into law by signing Senate bill 1294. The measure will funnel $10 million to the social equity program. This money will be spent on providing grants, loans and license fee waivers to all the business aspirants eligible according to the program. The program also entails the provision of technical and other business support to them.
The bill was authored by a Democrat senator Steven Bradford. In a statement, he said that the program would support the cities to expand their social equity efforts. It is important to note that Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento have already put their local equity programs in place. People of color already face unseen challenges even when they have required business capital and expertise. Such difficulties increase manifold when they don’t have enough capital and also dealing with past convictions. Bradford hopes that the bill will be supportive of the latter cohort.
SB 1294 specifically talks about the racial disproportion
The bill doesn’t shy away from acknowledging the biased approach of war on drugs during the era of prohibition. The text of the bill categorically mentions that all the yoke of arrests, convictions, and other far-reaching unwanted consequence was mostly endured by Latinx and Blacks.
The data from the state’s Department of Justice for the period of 2006-2015 substantiates the text of the bill. According to the data, Black citizens faced two times more arrests for marijuana misdemeanors and five times more for marijuana felonies as compared to white Californians. In the same time period, the Latin population also faced 35 percent more arrests than white demographics.
These figures identify a major disproportion when every racial community consume and sale the strain on nearly the same rates. The bill articulates that this slanted law enforcement practice has deeply affected the color communities that were already facing social injustice in many other forms.
War on drugs: Another tool of persecution against people of color
California is not alone in recognizing the decades-old damaging implications of war on drugs for people of color. The state of New York is also trying to address the issue of racial disproportion arising from cannabis-related law enforcement. The state is preparing for the decriminalization of cannabis. NYC has already implemented the policy to only issue tickets to all those caught smoking cannabis or with a minor amount of cannabis.
Cannabis advocates groups are also happy with the approval of the program. Rodney Holcombe of Drug Policy Alliance is of the thought that the state’s Cannabis Equity Act will assist all those cities that haven’t started social equity efforts at the municipal level. Holcombe has also termed the Cannabis Equity Act the first steps to ensure an atmosphere of equality in the growing cannabis industry.