Oakland Will Use Equity Permits To Address Integration
In an attempt to quickly address a lack of integration in Oakland’s legal marijuana work force, the city’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission has approved equity permits as part of its new regulations.
According to Mercury News, half of new medical marijuana permits will be reserved for “people who have lived for at least two years within six police beats in East Oakland with high marijuana arrests, or people arrested for marijuana crimes. The applicants must have at least a 50 percent ownership stake in the business they are seeking to permit.”
In most municipalities, a felony conviction will prevent individuals from acquiring the proper licensing to operate legally in the marijuana industry. No state had a legal marijuana program before 1996, and most states with legalization have only done so in the last few years. This means that many individuals with commercial marijuana experience may have acquired these skills illegally. Whites and non-whites were likely to have operated outside of the law. However, non-whites are far more likely to have been arrested for it.
The Oakland City Council is attempting to bring more integration to the city’s marijuana industry. Councilwoman Delsey Brooks has introduced equity permits. These permits have been added to new marijuana regulations adopted by Oakland’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission. Permits will also be issued for other positions in the industry such as growing and transportation.
Ms. Brooks feels the permits are necessary to bring more diversity into the industry. “When we look at the eight (dispensaries), we have one that is owned by an African-American. One out of eight,” Brooks said. “Everybody ought to have an opportunity to compete.”
There were critics of the new initiative as some felt current businesses could be impacted or forced to re locate. Cannabis Regulatory Commission member, Jake Sassaman, called the new law “impossible to navigate.” City Councilman, Dan Kalb, expressed interest in creating amendments for the new law in the near future. He wants to expand the jurisdictions eligible for the equity permits while taking into consideration the needs of current businesses. “If we don’t do that we will drive businesses underground or out of town and that helps nobody in Oakland,” he said.