In essence, San Francisco is resetting the clock on the War on Drugs, at least for cannabis. The city is expanding upon Proposition 64, the state law that went into effect this year that makes amnesty for weed-related crimes a condition for legalizing cannabis in California.
As incredibly progressive as that ordinance is, San Francisco is not alone in attempting to work racial equity into the new legalized cannabis landscape. Cities across California and other states are upping the racial equity quotient in various ways, in what looks like a race to the top for seeking true racially and economically inclusive outcomes. As city leaders scratch their heads over how to realize real racial equity in policymaking, the legalized weed experiment is acting as the test case and is already proving itself sticky enough that cities are almost competing to be the most weedfully woke.
It’s not just the historically uber-liberal Bay Area that’s embarking on this. Los Angeles also has a cannabis social equity program that prioritizes business permits for people with low incomes, who have lived in an area ravaged by the drug war, have criminal records (because of past weed prohibition), and who plan to hire at least half of their workforces from local residents. Both Oakland and L.A. are also prioritizing permits for people who don’t personally fall under this criteria but are willing to finance or lease space to applicants who do.
Despite the heavy regulation of the cannabis market at both the city and state level (and maybe the federal level if Senator Cory Booker has it his way), there has still been immense growth in revenue and profits in this field. According to the 2017 Cannabis Industry Annual Report, from New Frontier Data, “The legal cannabis market was worth an estimated $6.6 billion in 2016, and annual sales are projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16% to reach more than $24 billion by 2025.” And that’s only based on the states where weed is currently legal.
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