Gov. Jerry Brown of California signed the California Cannabis Equity Act (SB 1294) into law on Wednesday, authorizing the expenditure of $10 million in state funds to support so-called cannabis social equity programs. The programs assist members of communities most severely impacted by the War on Drugs that wish to enter California’s newly legal cannabis industry. The grants will be used to offer equity applicants and licensees business loans or grants, waivers for licensing fees, technical support, and other services.
Cities including Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Francisco have already established social equity programs. State Senator Steven Bradford, a Democrat from Gardena who authored SB 1294, told the Compton Herald in June that the measure will help expand municipal equity efforts.
“Currently, there are no state programs addressing the barriers and challenges faced by those attempting to enter this unique industry,” said Bradford. “If people of color with financial capital and high business acumen are having difficulty gaining licenses, one can only imagine the struggles individuals with zero capital and previous convictions are faced with.”
Addressing Bias in the War on Drugs
The text of SB 1294 addresses some of the disparity in the enforcement of cannabis prohibition laws in California.