The City of San Francisco will not issue permits to sell recreational marijuana until new regulations encouraging diversity among business owners are finalized.
California voters approved Prop. 64 last November. This legalized recreational marijuana use and sales are expected to start in the Golden State this January. Unfortunately, those in San Francisco excited to buy recreational marijuana will have to wait a bit longer.
City authorities will not be issuing permits for recreational marijuana businesses until they can finalize regulations encouraging equity for business owners. The city is hoping to provide opportunities for low-income entrepreneurs and non-whites. In many states, the costs of acquiring the proper permits to open a legal marijuana business are extremely high, thereby excluding many potential applicants. This can impact communities as the operators of shops often do not represent the diversity of the neighborhoods they operate in.
The ordinance calling for equity among business owners also seeks to help another group, those with drug offense convictions. While the idea of allowing individuals with previous drug offenses to be licensed marijuana business operators may seem odd to some, there is good reason to do so. Legal marijuana is a fairly recent concept. For many in this industry, the simple reality is that they had to acquire much of their knowledge and skillset in markets before marijuana was legalized. If you are hiring a grower, would you want someone who has been growing for 30 years or someone who waited until it was legal and only just started?
Unfortunately, if you are aren’t white, you would have a much higher chance of being arrested and convicted for a marijuana-related charge. This can make it much more difficult for someone to be hired for a legit job in the marijuana industry than their white peers.
While the equity ordinance aims to be fair, it has created additional levels of complexity for the city. According to City Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who introduced the equity ordinance, said city officials do not yet know what the final regulations will look like.
“Out of a 70-page ordinance, less than a page talks about how to make (the industry) equitable,” said Sheehy according to SF GATE. He said more work was needed and that the regulations are “far from perfect, and further from final.”