In an attempt at providing reparations to Oakland residents that were jailed for offenses related to marijuana possession in the last 10 years, the City Council has approved a program to help convicted drug felons get into the legal weed industry.
Called the “Equity Permit Program,” the first-in-the-nation idea will allow recently incarcerated (as well residents throughout East Oakland) individuals the opportunity to receive medical cannabis industry permits. The council unanimously voted to pass the plan.
The Equity Permit Program has been in discussion since May of last year when Councilmember Delsey Brooks had voiced our desire to create a form of economic reparations for people and neighborhoods affected by the war on marijuana.
In order to apply to be a part of the program, each applicant must be an Oakland resident; have to reside in one of the six East Oakland police beats that fall under the program for at least two years prior to the date of the application; maintain nothing less than a 50 percent ownership in the dispensary application; and will not be barred from the application because of a prior marijuana or cannabis conviction.
Although the program has passed it has not come without opposition. Some have noticed how the program benefits Brooks because many of the “Equity” police beats are in her council district, and none of them include other neighborhoods affected by the War on Drugs, such as West Oakland.
Still, this is an important move forward in marijuana policy reform and criminal justice reform, considering that minorities (specifically black and Latinx) are still most affected by drug-related offenses.
“Legal marijuana has become big business,” Killer Mike wrote last year in an essay encouraging a push for more black people to enter the marijuana industry. “But not everyone is benefitting from the marijuana boom. As more and more people race to cash in, it’s becoming apparent that African-Americans in particular are being left behind.”