California men incarcerated for weed push to be part of marijuana industry
Groups trying to get city to reverse stance on ex-felons getting jobs in the growing cannabis economy.
Author: Liz Kreutz Published: 5:01 AM PDT August 22, 2017 Updated: 5:01 AM PDT August 22, 2017
Steven Clark began selling weed in 1991 when he was 17 years old, just before the birth of his first child.
He was arrested later that year in McClatchy Park and sentenced to four months in jail.
But the problem, he said, was not those four months. The problem was what came next.
“Everything from financial aid to housing to quality of life…everything’s been affected absolutely everything,” Clark said. “And…I have no violent crimes. I have marijuana possession and marijuana sales charges.”
Clark, 45, is a spoken word poet — he goes by “Hurrikane the Poet” — and drives for Uber. He said he can’t drive for Lyft because they rejected him after a background showed he had a felony.
Now, Clark is part of a group called “Brother to Brother” that hopes to push the city of Sacramento to help people like him — who were negatively impacted by the war on drugs — get jobs in the growing cannabis economy.
“Now that it's been repealed, do we go back and say anything about all of these felonies or anything about these life charges that have been made?” Clark asked. “Do we do anything about that, or do we just say ‘ok let's just start from here'. Because if we say, ‘ok let's start from here,' then what about me?"
Malaki Seku Amen, of for the California Urban Partnership, is working with “Brother to Brother” to push this cause. Together, members of the two groups attended Imagine Justice event hosted by Common to get signatures for a petition they’re putting together for the city.
Current ordinances in Sacramento would keep those with felony charges like Clark from owning marijuana businesses. Seku Amen says they hope to change that.
“We want to have the city move towards an equity approach towards marijuana policy, the dollars going to economic development,” Seku Amen said.
Speaking to a group of people waiting for the concert, Seku Amen elaborated: “We don’t want kids to smoke marijuana,” he said. “We want the tax dollars to go to youth prevention programs. We also want the tax dollars to go to families that were harmed by the war on drugs…that went to jail, couldn’t get jobs, housing, college tuition.”
Seku Amen said they gathered roughly 1,000 signatures at the concert and plan to submit the petition to the mayor and city leaders.