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Budget Hawks Threaten Hopes for Cannabis Equity In San Diego

In San Diego, the second-largest city in California, marijuana is big business. But only people with the big bucks can afford to open storefront dispensaries after the state legalized in November 2016. If you are Black, research shows you were nearly six times more likely than white people to be arrested in the city for marijuana before legalization. This criminalization results in lifelong consequences in everything from housing to employment to education—let alone opening a million dollar cannabis dispensary.

The research in question was conducted by the Mid-City Community Advocacy Network, released in August 2019. It found young people and people of color in San Diego were disproportionately targeted by marijuana arrests in the five-year period before legalization took effect. Latinx people were more than twice as likely as whites to be arrested for pot; Pacific Islanders nearly four times as likely, and Blacks nearly six times as likely.

“Areas in central and southeastern San Diego have been particularly impacted by the criminalization of cannabis,” the report said. “If the city of San Diego hopes to use cannabis tax revenues to promote equity, it should invest revenue in these communities.”

Worse still, data since 2017 show that while marijuana arrests in San Diego have decreased overall, people of color are still disproportionately targeted. For example, Black people make up less than 6 percent of San Diego but 16 percent of citations for juveniles and 29 percent for adults.

San Diego lawmakers are proposing a program to help these populations. City Council members Chris Ward and Monica Montgomery want to create a cannabis social equity program that provides funding, resources, and other opportunities to people victimized by marijuana prohibition. For models, they point to city programs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland.

But more importantly, the state government in Sacramento is offering matching funds to support local cannabis equity programs. Last year, the state of California gave out $10 million in grants. Ward and Montgomery say their city should not refuse this opportunity.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Alexander Lekhtman on Filter Magazine

Published: February 05, 2020

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