You know that black people are more often arrested for marijuana offenses than white people. That’s common knowledge.
But if you don’t live in one of the eight states in which recreational marijuana is legal, you may not have noticed that people of color rarely run dispensaries.
Now, we told you about one private nonprofit, The Hood Incubator, not long ago. They operate out of Oakland, and are doing all they can to change the face of dispensary ownership — literally.
Their programs target black people that were arrested for possession during the days of prohibition, giving them the resources and training they need to start legal weed businesses.
Now Fortune reports that their city is getting in on the act.
In April, Oakland voted to reserve 50 percent of all the medical marijuana licenses that they plan to grant for those that either live in a district that had extremely high rates of weed-related arrests or that were convicted of a weed-related crime. As you might guess, most of the 21 neighborhoods covered by the city’s new marijuana ordinance are predominantly black spaces.
Fortune reports that things already seem to be moving in a positive direction — that at Oakland’s first legal weed industry mixer, several hundred people turned up.
“It’s a blessing in disguise,” Andre Shavers, one of the attendees of the mixer said. He was arrested for possession in 2007, and has suffered the effects of being on probation ever since. Now he hopes that his record will give him a leg up instead of being a leg iron.
“It’s almost like … reparations,” he said, “That’s how I look at it.”
Oakland’s plan to assist the entrée of those negatively impacted by prohibition into the legal marijuana industry follows similar efforts by other states that have ratified recreational marijuana.
Ohio’s law books reserve 15 percent of all of its weed licenses for minority-owned businesses. Florida has pledged to grant one third of its cultivation licenses to members of the Florida Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association.
And Pennsylvania will not grant you a license to sell or grow without explicitly telling the state how your business will forward the cause of racial equality.
Can you imagine where we’d be if every state had a law like that for new businesses?
To further assist states in their efforts towards racial weed equality, the Minority Cannabis Business Association has composed model legislation that ensure aid and special consideration be given to women, people of color, and minorities convicted of marijuana offenses.
“The people who got locked up should not get locked out of this industry,” Boston mayoral candidate Tito Jackson told Fortune; his state recently passed legislation making recreational use legal.
Doesn’t he speak the truth.
As more states move to end prohibition, here’s hoping that Oakland becomes a model for how government can be a force for good when it comes to correcting an unpleasant history.