New cannabis dispensaries bring Sacramento closer to reaching social equity goals • Sacramento News & Review – Sacramento News & Review

By Ken Magri

Maisha Bahati stands proudly inside her new storefront. “We took so many risks,” she says. After four years of hard work and worry, Crystal Nugs cannabis delivery service opened a walk-in dispensary on J Street in Midtown Sacramento in November.

“This building had been boarded up for years. It was an eyesore,” Bahati says. “But we introduced ourselves, talked to people in the neighborhood, the Midtown Association, and got our conditional use permit.” 

Crystal Nugs is Sacramento’s first Black and women-owned cannabis dispensary, and one of four new stores assisted by Sacramento’s Cannabis Opportunity and Racial Equity program.

“The CORE program helps entrepreneurs break into and operate in the regulated cannabis industry with support in everything from small-business education to advertising to networking opportunities and, of course, funding,” says Davina Smith, who leads the city’s Office of Cannabis Management.

Like other California cannabis equity programs, CORE was designed to help those adversely affected from law enforcement discrimination during America’s war on drugs. People qualify if they have past cannabis convictions or come from specific neighborhoods, designated by ZIP code. 

In 2021, the Sacramento City Council awarded new cannabis dispensary licenses to 10 CORE participants after a neutral panel from outside the area evaluated

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