L.A. Aims To Help Disadvantaged Communities Cash In On Marijuana Legalization

By Emily Alpert Reyes
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Under a proposal drafted by outside consultants and released this week, Los Angeles would provide extra help to some people seeking to run cannabis businesses, in an attempt to address the uneven effects of the drug war.

Los Angeles Times

The war on drugs has taken a disproportionate toll on people who are poor, black or Latino, community activists have long lamented.

Now that marijuana is on the brink of legalization in California, Los Angeles leaders want to make sure that disadvantaged people can cash in.

L.A. has been crafting regulations to permit a wide range of marijuana businesses as the state prepares to legalize the sale of recreational pot.

Under a proposal drafted by outside consultants and released this week, the city would provide extra help to some people seeking to run cannabis businesses, in an attempt to address the uneven effects of the drug war.

“For so long, people that were black, people that were Latino, we have paid the price for this business,” City Council President Herb Wesson, who is African American, said at a recent community forum in Watts. “And as we move this into the legal realm, it is important to us that we have a piece of the action.”

Local governments cannot give preferential treatment based on race or ethnicity under California law, a fact that Wesson quickly acknowledged at the Watts forum.

Instead, the L.A. program would benefit poor people who have been convicted of a marijuana crime in California, poor people whose immediate family members have been convicted, people with low incomes who live or have lived in neighborhoods that were heavily affected by marijuana arrests, and companies that agree to help disadvantaged applicants.

“This is not about race,” said Donnie Anderson, cofounder of the California Minority Alliance, which advocates for the inclusion of people of color in the marijuana industry. “This is about communities that were hurt by the failed war on drugs.”

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