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Marijuana

Oakland’s New Marijuana Law Aims to offer Economic Reparations

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When I first heard that Colorado was legalizing marijuana, one of my first thoughts was “Man, everyone who is or has ever been locked up for weed is gonna be pissed.” But for people who use marijuana for medical purposes, that is a whole other story. You have to get a medical card before you are able to obtain this product, as it has to be issued by a doctor. I know a few people who use marijuana as a way of dealing with any pains they are going through. Once, a friend of mine showed me what the product looked like. When I saw it, I wasn’t shocked with the product itself, but more so for what it came it. It looked a little dodgy and a quite suspicious. I’m no designer, but these businesses need to really update their marijuana packaging, just so it doesn’t look so obvious that someone is carrying marijuana. The smell is bad enough so the packing needs to outweigh this somehow.

I would imagine one of those people is DeMarcus Sanders from Waterloo, Iowa. A few years ago, he was pulled over for playing his music too loud. The police officer ran his license and then insisted on searching the car because he smelled marijuana. During the search, he found a small amount and charged DeMarcus with possession. The tide is turning on marijuana laws across the United States and Canada. Legitimate businesses like my green solution are now flourishing, whilst also serving a real demand. Unfortunately, this didn’t come soon enough for DeMarcus.

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DeMarcus Sanders and his son

DeMarcus plead guilty and served 30 days in jail. During that time he lost his job, his drivers license and credit for college classes he had been taking. Even though it has been a few years since he was arrested, Mr. Sanders still owes the state over $2000 for room and board at the jail, fines, court costs, and other fees.

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Getting arrested for marijuana possession in Iowa automatically triggers a six-month license suspension. Before it can be reinstated, one has to pay off a percentage of court fees and fines. As you can imagine, it’s hard to pay off fines and court costs when you are unemployed. It’s also hard to find or keep a job when you don’t have a driver’s license.
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Another case that is even more tragic is that of Bernard Noble. The 49-year-old father of seven is serving more than 13 years behind bars for being caught with the equivalent of two joints’ worth of marijuana in 2010. He was arrested after two police officers ordered him off his bicycle and searched him without probable cause.
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They found 2.8 grams of marijuana. Because he had prior non-violent drug offenses — for small amounts of cocaine and marijuana — an Orleans Parish jury convicted him under a state law that gives harsher punishments for habitual offenders.

These men and countless others are going through all of this for a substance that is now being legalized. Imagine all the other stories that are similar or worse.032014-national-aclu-calculator-on-racial-disparity-marijuana-arrests

Marijuana Law

In an attempt to begin repairing the damage caused by the disproportionate targeting of Black people in the questionable U.S. war on drugs and give us a share of this multi million dollar green pie, Oakland’s City Council recently approved an “Equity Permit Program” that would make the city’s marijuana industry more inclusive of Black and Latino residents. The program was introduced by Councilwoman Desley Brooks.

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Brooks has stated publicly that she wants a form of economic reparations for people and neighborhoods affected by the war on marijuana.

Under the new law, half of new marijuana business permits will be reserved for people who live in East Oakland or were incarcerated for a marijuana-related arrest. The applicants must also have at least a 51 percent ownership stake in the business they are seeking to permit.

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The city plans to issue eight new permits a year, as well as introduce permits for other marijuana businesses, such as cultivation, production, manufacturing and transportation. There are also many marijuana seo businesses that aim to boost marijuana stores up the Google rankings in order to make more sales. Currently, there are eight dispensaries in Oakland, but the businesses that supply the dispensaries are not licensed or permitted by the city.

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The program was opposed by the majority of Oakland’s own Cannabis Regulatory Commission, who worked on the expansion for 18 months. Council member Brooks added the permit program as a last-minute amendment, which passed unanimously at 1 a.m. one week ago.

Supernova Women, a support group for Black women pot entrepreneurs says the policy was too narrow and should be expanded to other areas of Oakland or they would not be eligible. The council said it plans to make amendments to the new law at a later date, which could include expanding the permits to more police beats.

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Amber Senter (L), Nina Parks, and Sunshine Lencho (R) are the co-founders of Supernova Women

Other critics say handing out every other new permit to a tiny group of people will create a “licensing bottleneck” that will drastically slow down Oakland’s vast expansion in licensed medical pot nurseries, farms, kitchens, stores, and testing labs.

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Over the next months, amendments will be offered to expand the eligibility area for equity permits and possibly include the children or spouses of individuals incarcerated for marijuana crimes.

In my opinion, the prison industrial complex is nothing more than modern day slavery. The new slave masters alter laws and policies that funnel an overwhelming majority of Black people back onto the fields, or in this case behind bars. Instead of picking cotton, many of these prisoners are paid near nothing to make products ranging from Victoria Secret lingerie to Starbucks packaging.

I’m all for a program or policy that can provide some type of economic empowerment to those who have suffered directly or indirectly from an unjust set of laws that weren’t really created to protect anyone to begin with.

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