San Jose to explore creation of cannabis equity program


July 9, 2021

After months of discussion, officials in San Jose have a timeline for completing a report that will document residents’ experiences with cannabis-related crimes and barriers to entering the legal market.

The conclusions could determine how the city will use more than $ 550,000 from the state Cannabis control office to create a cannabis equity program.

Equity programs can help people affected negatively or disproportionately by the criminalization of cannabis to start their own businesses in the legal market.

Data shows that while people of color are the most likely to be cited, fined and jailed on cannabis-related charges, they are not the most likely to own a cannabis business in California, according to the data. Daily Marijuana Business.

San José has 16 registered cannabis companies, three of which are owned by minorities.

Peter Hamilton, senior executive analyst in the city manager’s office for administration, policy and intergovernmental relations, said the deadline for submitting the report to the state is February 2022. He said the city plans to hold back the services of a consultant to conduct the study by the end of the summer.

While the report is expected to be completed in the fall, Javier Armas, an advocate for equity in cannabis, said city officials should prioritize all steps that can lead to an equity agenda and the creation of more cannabis businesses. Armas is the co-founder of the Cannabis Bay Area Latin Alliance, an organization that helps provide Latinos with information and resources to enter the cannabis industry.

“San Jose needs to wake up and really smell the cannabis coffee, it’s a powerful move,” Armas said. “The writing on the wall of the economic trajectory of cannabis is very, very clear.”

Tax revenue from cannabis sales is expected to provide the city with $ 17 million for the 2020-21 fiscal year – the highest-grossing year since the legalization of Prop hobby retail stores. 64 in 2016, according to Wendy Sollazzi, director of the San Jose Police Department’s division.

Kali-rai said this money can go to essential city services such as road repairs, police and fire departments.

Although Armas has said he primarily helps cannabis equity applicants in Oakland where a program is already established, he hopes to see more applicants from San Jose.

“San Jose hasn’t hit the cannabis plate yet, and we really hope it will,” Armas said.

Kali-rai said the city can become a leader in cannabis equity if officials take the time to study the industry and the progress of existing programs in cities like Oakland and San Francisco.

“Cannabis is one of those industries where being a pioneer isn’t necessarily an advantage,” Kali-rai said. “I think that the fact that San José has waited a bit, looked at the landscape and is thinking about the future, I think is really significant and important.”

Contact Stephanie Lam at [email protected] or follow @StephCLam on Twitter.

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