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Sacramento Proposes Marijuana Equity Program To Redress 'Criminalization of Cannabis' In Communities Of Color

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

From 2004 to 2016, 6,800 people were arrested solely for marijuana-related charges in Sacramento. About half of them were black.

Joe Devlin, chief of the city’s Cannabis Policy and Enforcement Department, is asking the city council to approve on Tuesday a cannabis-equity program that might serve as restitution for those prosecuted under the war on drugs.

“The criteria for the program is having been directly impacted by the criminalization of cannabis,” Devlin said, adding that this includes “having been arrested for a cannabis-related crime or having a family member arrested,” or if someone lives in “neighborhoods that had a disproportionate number of cannabis-related arrests."

Those neighborhoods include Land Park, Oak Park, Del Paso Heights South, Fruitridge, Florin Perkins, Parkway Meadowview, and Elder Creek,

“The program is a recognition that past policies had real, negative impacts on families and communities,” Devlin said. “This is an attempt to assist those who were negatively impacted by that and get them into business ownership positions.”

Marijuana-related arrests decreased in Sacramento after 2010, when California decriminalized possession of an ounce or less. In that year, 1,360 individuals were arrested on pot charges, and nearly 48 percent were black. In 2016, 552 were arrested on cannabis charges.

If the council approves the equity plan, the city will create the equivalent of a small business support center. Applicants approved under the program will be eligible for reduced or waived fees, up to $250,000, and could be prioritized in the lottery for storefront dispensary permits.

Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob reports on all things northern California and Nevada. His coverage of police technology, local athletes, and the environment has won a regional Associated Press and several Edward R. Murrow awards.   Read Full Bio 

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