California Embraces Statewide Equity Program for Cannabis
California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed new legislation aimed at expanding participation in the legal cannabis marketplace to groups most heavily impacted by past drug enforcement laws. Senate Bill 1294 will offer support for local equity programs, such as those implemented in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, and Sacramento, which prioritize prior low-level marijuana criminal offenders for commercial cannabis permits.
The goal of Senate Bill 1294 is to level the playing field for individuals and communities most “negatively and disproportionately impacted by cannabis-related criminalization.” It calls for the development of an equity ordinance model to be published on the California Bureau of Cannabis Control’s website by July 1 of next year and requires state assistance, both technical and financial, in the establishment and administration of local equity programs.
Under Senate Bill 1294, jurisdictions with a local equity program may apply for part of the $10 million in grants allotted by the Legislature.
“The signing of SB 1294 recognizes the failed efforts of the war on drugs,” said Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), who introduced the bill. “But more importantly, it highlights the disproportionate devastation cannabis criminalization has had on communities and helps address the harms by reducing barriers to licensure and increasing opportunities for employment."