SACRAMENTO (September 28, 2018) - This week Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1294, the California Cannabis Equity Act, into law. Authored by Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), SB 1294 incorporates many of the recommendations of the California Urban Partnership. It is also a major starting point in California’s recognition of the damaging impacts of decades of racialized marijuana law enforcement on communities of color, and African Americans in particular.
“SB 1294 provides legitimate pathways for individuals to operate lawfully - increasing public safety and public health within communities statewide - and is a monumental step in the right direction to ensure that California’s legalized cannabis industry is inclusive and diverse,” said Senator Bradford. “This bill helps reverse some of the damages of our failed policies, such as the war on drugs, and presents real opportunities for individuals who as recent as last year, were deemed criminals by our justice system.”
In June of this year, $10 million and four positions at the Bureau of Cannabis Control were approved in the 2017-18 state budget to support equity applicants and licenses. SB 1294 builds off the work secured in the state budget by authorizing local jurisdictions, who have established a marijuana equity program, to apply for grants. The funding from these grants will be used for business loans, capital improvements, regulatory compliance, licensing fee waivers, technical assistance and administration to assist local equity programs and participants. Four cities - Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and Sacramento - have already established local equity programs for their respective cannabis licensing and permitting processes. These programs are focused on business ownership and employment in the marijuana industry that reflect the local demographics of their cities. Equity applicants include those living in underserved, disadvantaged communities and those who have been negatively impacted by decades of harsh drug policies.
“We thank Senator Bradford tremendously for his leadership in authoring and moving SB 1294 into law, especially at this critical time when justice demands equitable marijuana business ownership opportunities for Drug War victims,” said Malaki Amen, chief executive office of the California Urban Partnership. “We look forward to working with the Senator and the entire legislature in building on this progress in the future.”
“The passage of SB 1294 is an important step toward creating an equitable cannabis industry in California,” said Rodney Holcombe, Office of Legal Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance. “As we know, access to capital and technical assistance are crucial for anyone wanting to create a business in this space. Unfortunately, persons most harmed by cannabis prohibition and generational poverty often lack the support needed to be successful. It is our hope that this will be the first of many victories needed to improve equity and accessibility in this growing industry.”