- Posted by Erica Treeby
- On March 16, 2017
- breaking, California, cannabis, Cannabis License, Cannabis Permit, commercial cultivation, dispensaries, licensing, manufacturing, MCRSA, medical cannabis, regulations, retail, war on drugs
The City of Oakland has long been at the forefront of social activism and reform. Think, Huey Newton and the Black Panthers. Think, Alicia Garza and the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s no surprise that when tasked with crafting medical Cannabis regulations, the City made the groundbreaking decision to draft laws which address the disproportionate impact the War on Drugs has leveled on a large section of its community.
According to reports by the Drug Policy Alliance, the War on Drugs has resulted in higher arrest and conviction rates for African Americans and Latinos. “Higher arrest and incarceration rates for African Americans and Latinos are not reflective of increased prevalence of drug use or sales in these communities, but rather of a law enforcement focus on urban areas, on lower-income communities and on communities of color as well as inequitable treatment by the criminal justice system.” 2010 census data shows that 28% of Oakland’s residents are African American, and 25.4% identify as Hispanic or Latino.
In response to the passage of the Medical Cannabis Regulation & Safety Act (“MCRSA”), in May of 2016, Oakland amended its medical Cannabis ordinances to create a comprehensive regulatory framework for the cultivation, manufacturing, distributing, testing, dispensing, and consumption of medical Cannabis within the City. [Oakland Municipal Code Chapters 5.80 and 5.81.]
On November 14, 2016, the Oakland City Council directed its staff to perform a race and equity analysis of the medical Cannabis regulations. This analysis identified disparities within the Cannabis industry, as well as revisions to the City’s medical Cannabis ordinances, including a phased permitting process that prioritizes equity applicants and encourages equity incubators, to address the root causes of these disparities. The City articulated its racial equity outcome goal as: “Promoting equitable ownership and employment opportunities in the Cannabis industry in order to decrease disparities in life outcomes for marginalized communities of color and to address the disproportionate impacts of the war on drugs in those communities.”
On March 7th, 2017, after nearly a year of debate and public hearings, the City Council unanimously approved changes to Oakland’s medical Cannabis licensing process, which seeks to balance the racial inequities perpetrated by the War on Drugs. The new laws create an Equity Assistance Program for medical Cannabis applicants who have been most detrimentally impacted by the City’s disparate Cannabis policies. At least half of Oakland’s medical Cannabis dispensary permits must be granted to Equity Applicants.
In order to meet the criteria for an Equity Program Applicant, you must have an annual income at or less than 80 percent of the Oakland Average Medium Income (AMI) adjusted for household size; and have either lived in any combination of Oakland police beats: 2X, 2Y,6X, 7X, 19X, 21X, 21Y, 23X, 26Y, 27X, 27Y, 29X, 30X, 30Y, 31Y, 32X, 33X, 34X, 35X for at least five of the last ten years; or were arrested in Oakland and convicted for a cannabis crime after November 5, 1996.
The program will include a technical assistance package, waivers from City fees, and access to no interest business start-up loans since these are the dominant barriers for groups without access to their own or inter generational wealth. Oakland has also set aside $3.4 million in Cannabis business license tax revenue to offer no-interest loans and other assistance to help equity permit holders start their businesses.
Contact CannaBusinessLaw for expert assistance in compliance with Cannabis licensing, permitting and the application process relating to commercial Cannabis in California.