The Guardian: ‘A farce of social equity’: California is failing its Black cannabis businesses

Great to see someone in the mainstream media call it out…

The Guardian reports

Sluggish social equity programs, booming illegal market have left Black entrepreneurs in the cannabis business disappointed

Half a million dollars and nearly four years into his Los Angeles-based cannabis venture, Donnie Anderson had no shop, no prospects and a mountain of debt.

With financial help from family and friends, Anderson rented a $6,000-a-month space in January 2018 for his new cannabis retail shop. He kept paying the rent as the city’s permitting process dragged on. He bought cabinets and other equipment as he waited. And waited.

Sick of waiting, he’s selling all that equipment and giving up his lease. Inaction by the city is forcing him to give up his dream, he says.

“It’s killing business owners,” Anderson says. “All the air has been let out of me.”

In November 2016Californians voted to legalize recreational cannabis. But nearly five years later, the state and many of its cities and counties are still figuring out how exactly to regulate the industry. The challenge has been particularly frustrating for Black entrepreneurs like Anderson, who were promised a leg-up getting started, but have seen little movement in that regard.

Following regulation, several cities and counties in California created social equity programs to help entrepreneurs in communities most harmed by the war on drugs. Black people have borne the brunt of marijuana criminalization in the US over the past 20 years. They’re nearly four times as likely as white people to be arrested for pot violations, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, even though the two groups use marijuana at roughly the same rate.


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