By Carroll Fife, Oakland Justice Coalition
March 7 could be a record day for Oaklanders. That is the day that the Oakland Council will vote on the Equity Permit program, a program introduced by Councilmember Desley Brooks to level the playing field in Oakland’s growing cannabis industry.
The cannabis industry has historically consisted of white male ownership. This includes dispensaries, cultivation centers and marijuana infused product markets. It is also quite expensive to enter the industry with high application fees and proof of funds.
Yet, disproportionately, people of color continue to be incarcerated for the same product that other demographics are getting rich from.
The Equity Permit program will require that at least half of all marijuana permits go to applicants who have at least one member who has been an Oakland resident for at least two years, reside in Oakland police beats, or individuals who, within the last ten years, have been previously incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses as a result of a conviction arising out of Oakland.
The program will require that those mentioned above will maintain not less than 50 percent ownership in the applicant. This is an incredible opportunity to protect Oakland constituents who may have a harder time gaining equity in the cannabis industry.
Recently, Brittany Moore, a Colorado resident, and manager of The Dab Marijuana Dispensary in Denver, visited Oakland and participated in the Equity Permit program discussions with Councilmember Brooks.
“The State of Colorado literally made so much money from marijuana tax revenue, they had to give money back to their residents. Oaklanders will benefit greatly from getting a piece of this multi-billion-dollar pie,” Moore said.
“The trouble is that people of color are typically employed as security guards or occasionally as “budtenders.” I believe the Equity Permit program is a win-win for Oakland and its citizens.”
Councilmember Brooks is working to ensure that people who have been the primary targets of marijuana criminalization are able to benefit from recent law changes.
Her “Do The Right Thing” campaign will help many Oaklanders who want to be in the cannabis industry but otherwise could not.
“Brooks doesn’t want to see wealthy businessmen from out of town come in and make millions while the people of Oakland become victims of gentrification. She wants the members of the community take ownership in the businesses in their neighborhood so they can create jobs and afford to continue to live in the place they call home,” Moore says.
Please call your councilmember, repeatedly, and let them know that you expect them to vote yes for the Equity Permit program.
Please support this effort and attend the Council meeting on March 7 at 5:30 p.m. to demand that Oakland do the right thing in the cannabis industry.