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Oakland Passes Drug War Reparations via Cannabis Regulations

Oakland City Council voted unanimously to ensure ownership opportunities in the city’s burgeoning cannabis industry for historically disenfranchised communities. “Equity amendments,” proposed by Council Member Desley Brooks’, are designed to even the playing field in the cannabis industry.

The “equity amendments” guarantee the City of Oakland issue 50 percent of cannabis permits to individuals with prior convictions for marijuana offenses in Oakland and those who live in certain police beats.

Related: Gov. Brown Seeks To Eliminate Cannabis Third Party Distribution Model

“Black and Brown people were arrested at disproportionate rates even after voters decided to make marijuana a low-level police priority,” Councilwoman Brooks, a councilwoman in Oakland for 16 years, stated.

City’s Department of Race & Equity said the equity amendments will “promote… equitable ownership and employment opportunities in the cannabis industry in order to decrease disparities in life outcomes for marginalized communities of color and to address the disproportionate impacts of the war on drugs in those communities.”

The report also found that individuals previously incarcerated for cannabis offenses face barriers to employment, financial aid, housing, and other economic opportunities.

“If we look around our country, it’s mostly the white men who are making millions and millions in cannabis industry yet people of color were the ones locked up for selling cannabis,” said Brooks. “While we can’t undo all of the injustice to people of color resulting from the war on drugs, going forward we can establish a fair and equitable process that provides opportunities for those who have historically been left out. This is why I fought to get the equity program enacted into law.”

Oakland’s Cannabis Equity Program could also include free rent or real estate while requiring that at least half of dispensary permits be issued to Equity qualified applicants.

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