California has long gotten flack for not being an inclusive space for social equity and taking the steps some other states have as far as inclusion. Now, a group of social equity leaders from across the state who make up the California Cannabis Equity Alliance are planning a protest that will lay out their demands and wishes for the state.
This Monday, May 17 at 9:30 a.m. PST, on the west steps of the State capitol, the group is going to meet and lay out their “vision for economic justice and fairness” in the state’s cannabis industry.
Speakers at the event will include Kika Keith, president of the Social Equity Owners and Workers Association in Las Angeles; Malaki Amen, Executive Director of California Urban Partnership/Institute for MORE in Sacramento; Nina Parks Director of Equity Trade for Original Equity Group in San Francisco; Lanese Martin, director of The Hood Incubator in Oakland; Cesar Casamayor of The People’s Dispensary in Fresno and Amber Senter, director of SuperNova Women in Oakland.
“California made some progress in reinvesting cannabis tax revenue to support youth programs and address severe trauma, but the state continues to ignore the business development problems created by its legacy of racialized marijuana policy enforcement,” said Malaki Amen, executive director of the California Urban Partnership, according to a press release. “The real truth here is that the state cannot claim to support the Black and Brown children of Drug War survivors; especially when it is deliberately transferring billions in generational wealth away from their families.”
State funding for enforcement against cannabis operations that are in error is currently at $89 million in California, which is much higher than the funding allocated for social equity programs. Currently, the budget for social equity is only $15.5 million in California. Social equity programs can help those impacted by the war on drugs, or those disproportionately represented in the industry, get a leg up and join the industry. The focus in California, according to the coalition, is still on wealthy, non-marginalized investors.
“At a time when state marijuana tax revenues have grown from around $500 million to just under a billion dollars annually, we continue to see increases in funding for a new Drug War in California,” said Kika Keith, president of the Los Angeles based Social Equity Owners and Workers Association. “Justice demands that California stop funding a new Drug War. We need the state to provide the capital and environment necessary for social equity operators to have fair market share in the legal cannabis industry.”
Support For The California Cannabis Equity Alliance
While this action is from a private group outside the government, it already has some government support. Senator Steven Bradford, a Democrat hailing from Gardena, is going to be in attendance at the demonstration in support of social equity and the California Cannabis Equity Alliance. He is also the author of SB 1294, the bill that passed in California that set the initial framework funding social equity in the state.
Anyone who wishes to join in and help support these efforts is welcome to join the California Cannabis Equity Alliance on the west steps of the Capitol Building on Monday, May 17 at 9:30 a.m. PST. Participants are asked to wear a mask to the demonstration.There will be more information soon on how to join via livestream or share virtually.
As demand for social equity and a focus on people of color and other minorities gaining access in the cannabis industry continues, groups like the coalition are calling on lawmakers and those in power to help make changes so that more people have a chance to get in on legal cannabis.
Addison Herron-Wheeler is co-publisher and owner of OUT FRONT Magazine, and web editor of New Noise Magazine. She covers cannabis and heavy metal, and is author of Wicked Woman: Women in Metal from the 1960s to Now and Respirator, a collection of short stories.