Thursday, June 16, 2016

Microsoft Becomes Biggest Company To Enter Cannabis Game

by David Downs
Thu, Jun 16, 2016 at 12:39 PM

Technology giant Microsoft will become the largest blue-chip company to ever enter the cannabis industry, according to a new report from The New York Times.

While federal pot prohibition gives most corporate lawyers the chills, state-level legalization is apparently hot enough to attract the Redmond, Wash., company — which plans on dominating the software market for “seed-to-sale” tracking.
Microsoft, the world's largest software maker by revenue, will power legal cannabis tracking for state governments. - VIA WIKIPEDIA
  • via Wikipedia
  • Microsoft, the world's largest software maker by revenue, will power legal cannabis tracking for state governments.
Most legal cannabis regimes call for intense tracking of every plant grown in the legal system from its birth to its distribution at retail stores. (Gun control advocates can only dream the same thing might be applied to assault weapons designed explicitly for mass murder.)

Amidst widespread business dissatisfaction with the existing options for seed-to-sale tracking, Microsoft’s entry promises to completely blow up the sector.

“We do think there will be significant growth,” said Kimberly Nelson, the executive director of state and local government solutions at Microsoft, told the Times. “As the industry is regulated, there will be more transactions, and we believe there will be more sophisticated requirements and tools down the road.”

Microsoft said it had partnered with seed-to-sale software company Kind, a Los Angeles start-up. Kind’s executive said he had courted a lot of companies before getting Microsoft to sign on.

“I would like to think that this is the first of many dominoes to fall,” the exec told the Times.

Pot business software is a ripe target for disruption, said Ben Larson head of the Gateway cannabis tech incubator in Jack London Square. Gateway is incubating it’s own “MJ Freeway-killer” — he said, referring to the leading software solution.

Microsoft’s baby steps into cannabis fit a pattern of blue chip company interest in the cannabis space, which will generate $40 billion in economic activity by 2020, watchers estimate.

The large gardening company Miracle Grow purchased pot-focused General Hydroponics in 2015.

PayPal founder Peter Thiel has helped fund a $75 million cannabis investment firm called Privateer, which owns the strain information site Leafly.com and has launched the Marley Natural line of pot.

The Times also reports that Oracle has been working to track pot in New York state’s tight and unworkable regime.

California regulators are currently mulling options for picking a track and trace software vendor for the massive state — where there are an estimated 40,000 medical cannabis gardens, and around 1.4 million adults have used the botanical medicinally.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

ACLU California Announces Support of Marijuana Legalization Ballot Measure

by David Downs
Wed, Jun 15, 2016 at 10:30 AM

The American Civil Liberties Union of California on Tuesday endorsed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, or AUMA — Californians’ ballot measure that would legalize cannabis in the 2016 general election.

After conducting research proving  Black people and other minorities get arrested far more for pot than whites despite similar usage levels, the ACLU is supporting AUMA to help stem the mass incarceration epidemic in America.
aclu-of-california-logo-web.png
“The disastrous war on marijuana in California continues to ensnare thousands of people – particularly young people of color – in the criminal justice system every year,” said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, criminal justice and drug policy director with the ACLU of California. “It is time to move from prohibition to regulation. AUMA will establish a controlled and regulated market for adults, significantly reduce the harm done to young people under current marijuana laws, and generate substantial revenue for drug education and for the communities most devastated by the war on drugs.”
The announcement comes on the heels of a groundbreaking new study showing that even after California decriminalized personal possession of pot in 2010 by making it equal to a parking ticket — minorities are still the ones getting those tickets. Police use cannabis laws to prey on young males least equipped to pay fines, or fight charges, and most at-risk of being knocked off their life-track by adjudication.

From 2011 to 2014, California police made 60,000 marijuana arrests statewide, with young people under the age of 20 accounting for 73 percent of all misdemeanor marijuana arrests. “Nearly 70 percent of all marijuana arrests were of people of color,” the CA-ACLU found.

The ACLU states that the Adult Use of Marijuana Act offers the most vetted, thoughtful cannabis policy reform in the state’s history, and AUMA builds on the Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy spearheaded by Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and the ACLU of California in 2013.

“In November, California voters will have the opportunity to get regulation right,” stated Abdi Soltani, executive director of the ACLU of Northern California and steering committee member of the Blue Ribbon Commission. “AUMA is a comprehensive proposal that incorporates consensus findings based on extensive research and discussion. Most importantly, it includes measures that will protect young people, maintain public safety, and establish workable taxation and regulation. This comprehensive measure lays out a strong framework for implementation.”
 
AUMA allows adults 21 and over to have an ounce of pot in public and grow up to six plants at home and is the most endorsed legalization initiative in state history, with support from the California Council of Land Trusts, California Medical Association, and California NAACP, and now the California ACLU.

In related news, retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer said she was 'leaning toward' supporting legalization during an interview on Real Time with Bill Maher.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Snoop Dogg, Too $hort Endorse California Marijuana Legalization in New Video

by David Downs
Thu, Jun 9, 2016 at 11:04 AM

Snoop Dogg, Too $Short, and Quincy Jones make key appearances in one of the first and most powerful new campaign videos for the California initiative to legalize marijuana in the November 8 general election.
Lion for legalization: Snoop Dogg.
  • Lion for legalization: Snoop Dogg.
The California and Hawaii chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People released a new video that flips the script on the notion that the U.S. drug war is designed to protect poor communities and people of color.

The nine-minute video recounts recent U.S. history, where systemic racism through paternalistic drug policy eviscerated communities of color. From the Reefer Madness '30s, through Nixon’s war on (some) drugs in the '70s, to the '80s crack scare — it’s been minorities that do the time.

Despite similar usage levels, Black people enter prison 10.2 times the rate of whites for minor drug offenses, activists note. America has 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its prisoners.

“Ronald Reagan, George Bush, the Republican beatdown — and now you got a city of hopelessness,” said Bay Area rapper Too $hort.

“The war on drugs was a war on African-American kids. I couldn’t believe it but the facts were there,” said Alice Huffman NAACP President for the California and Hawaii chapters

“It was pretty clear that I had had my head in the sand for too long,” said Huffman. “All the work I was trying to do in the NAACP was not going to ever amount to very much because the segment that we should be serving was the segment that was was being targeted by government.”

“That’s why I can’t vote,” said Snoop. “Now we have reason to vote and these people that normally wouldn’t vote — their votes definitely make a difference.”

U.S. has been the world leader in promoting the war on drugs, we’re also leading on marijuana law reform, said the Drug Policy Alliance’s Ethan Nadelmann.

Four states have legalization and Washington, D.C., and the legal industry should reach $40 billion by 2020. Fifty-four percent of Americans say it’s time to legalize, polls says.

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act would legalize personal possession of up to one ounce in public and the cultivation of six plants at home, generate $1 billion per year in taxes for social services, and allow those with a post pot convictions to get their records wiped clean. Pot prisoners could petition for a re-sentencing based on modern pot laws.

“We need to overturn outdated drug laws and release inmates that have been convicted for drug offenses that are now legal today. We need to make sure our community is not left behind,” the vide declares.

“I think we need to start all over again and we need to build a society with compassion,” said Huffman.

Here’s the full video.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

How Marijuana Did at Yesterday's Primary Election

by David Downs
Wed, Jun 8, 2016 at 12:34 PM

They say "all politics is local," and local marijuana battles proved mixed in California during the primary election Tuesday.

In the California Democratic primary presidential contest, Hillary Clinton bested pro-legalization candidate Bernie Sanders, beating him with 56 percent of the vote in early results. Many predicted the race was too close to call, and voter turnout would be high. But turnout sagged and Clinton ran away with it after, some say because the Associated Press called her the presumptive nominee before Californians went to the ballot box in the pivotal race. Sanders has vowed to fight on against the system of super-delegates. Presumptive Republican candidate Donald Trump was the choice among California’s widely reviled GOP field. The GOP has record-low approval ratings in California.
Blue Dream from the NorCal 2012 harvest.
  • Blue Dream from the NorCal 2012 harvest.
In the race for Sen. Barbara Boxer’s seat, the more pro-marijuana Rep. Loretta Sanchez got trounced by the more cannabis-cautious Attorney General Kamala Harris, who had Sanchez beat by 23 points.

Here in Alameda County, medical cannabis regulation pioneer and Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley bested newcomer Bryan Parker and retained his seat.

In San Jose, voters rejected Measure C to loosen up the city’s tight but workable restrictions on dispensaries.

Marijuana supporters lost in Butte County, where voters passed Measure G to declare that cannabis is not an agricultural crop with “right to farm” protections. Voters also passed Measure H to maintain a tiny 50 square-foot cap on garden sizes.

But weed won in Nevada County, where voters rejected a cannabis growing ban by voting No on Measure W.

Patients lost in Yuba County Tuesday, where voters rejected Measures A and B to ease farming rules and allow dispensaries.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

'Racial Injustice' Lurks in California Pot Enforcement, Study Finds

by David Downs
Thu, Jun 2, 2016 at 8:45 AM

Personal pot possession in California was reduced from an arrest to an infraction in 2010, but systemic racism around pot enforcement continues, a new study finds.

EBE FILE PHOTO
  • EBE file photo
The American Civil Liberties Union of California, in conjunction with the Drug Policy Alliance, published a groundbreaking, heavily reported piece of research Monday that concludes that the Black community in California faces ticketing for pot at a rate four times as high as whites. Latinos have about double the rate of pot tickets as whites.

Titled “Marijuana Enforcement Disparities in California: A Racial Injustice”, the ACLU-DPA report is the culmination of more than a year’s work by a group of four Stanford law school students.

California arrests for pot have dropped 86 percent from highs of nearly 100,000 to about 20,000 in 2014. What remains unknown is how many pot tickets are being written and to whom.

The research group had to threaten to sue cities and counties to divulge pot infraction statistics — which are poorly tracked, and often hand-written, with no electronic records in existence.

An analysis of infraction data from Los Angeles and Fresno found disparities in Black and Latino citations compared to whites. Researchers also found a form of predatory policing where police placed the highest burden of tickets on the backs of young men and boys, particularly ones of color.

“Racial disparities in marijuana enforcement are widespread and longstanding. Los Angeles and Fresno are very different places; yet they reveal similar disparities. It’s likely that young black and Latino Californians experience these disparities statewide,” stated Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, Criminal Justice and Drug Policy director for the ACLU of California. “A $100 citation can easily become several times that, after all the fees are added. This presents a significant burden for young people and low-income families.”

“It is disappointing to see that even at the level of infractions, California law enforcement are incapable of applying the law equally across racial lines,” stated Alice Huffman, president of the CA-Hawaii NAACP. “I am hopeful that full legalization as proposed in the Adult Use of Marijuana Act will drastically reduce the numbers of young people of color being funneled into the criminal justice system for minor drug offenses.”

With infraction data hidden from officials themselves, police cannot speak accurately on levels of pot enforcement or allegations of racial bias, said Amanda Reiman, Marijuana Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.

Law enforcement assumptions based on personal experience don't often match the statistics.

For example, Oakland’s pot crime is concentrated in just two police beats, she said. “If you’re a cop covering Montclair in Oakland, yeah, there are no marijuana arrests.’”

She said weed crime statistics are caught in a “weird area” where they are underreported compared to the scale of pot activity. Pot crime is measured more like crack cocaine crime, which is rare, instead of alcohol-related crime, which is very common.

“We have this weird situation with cannabis where we have a great deal of use but we have no one with reporting systems, measuring outcomes.”

Now, millions of dollars in legal pot taxes have begun paying for some of the first statistical reporting on cannabis crime — as in Colorado and Washington.

California’s continued targeting of blacks even as pot laws changed mirrors new findings from Colorado, where pot cases dropped 86 percent, yet black teens actually got arrested more.

The ACLU’s groundbreaking study will add to calls for more racial equity in legalized cannabis markets. Recently, Oakland earmarked priority pot permits for cannabis offenders and residents of certain police beats.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

'Cannabis Damages DNA' Claim Debunked By Leading Researcher Ethan Russo

by David Downs
Tue, May 31, 2016 at 9:16 AM

 Critics are calling "reefer madness" on a new study from Australia claiming smoking pot will give your kids cancer.

Cannabis has been shown in cell, animal and limited human trials to prevent, halt or kill cancer, researchers note. Australia is getting world-famous for their reefer-madness research, this time for equating pot to the notorious birth defect-causing chemical thalidomide.
MUTATION RESEARCH
  • Mutation Research
On Tuesday, Associate Professor Stuart Reece and Professor Gary Hulse at The University of Western Australia released a paper called “Chromothripsis and epigenomics complete causality criteria for cannabis- and addiction-connected carcinogenicity, congenital toxicity and heritable genotoxicity”, published July 2016 in the journal "Mutation Research".

A press release from the university paper ran the chilling conclusion that pot smokers were damaging their DNA, and effectively giving their kids cancer. “The worst cancers are reported in the first few years of  life in children exposed in utero to cannabis effects,” one researcher said.

But the paper's authors did no actual tests. Rather, they reviewed studies to “close the logical loop” that pot causes gene replication damage that is passed on to kids.

So the Express contacted Ethan Russo, founding editor of Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics, widely considered to be one of the leading cannabinoid researchers on the planet who actually studies cannabinoids and he sent us this reply.  He stated:
“This report is based on a foundation of falsehoods. Cannabis is not mutagenic (productive of mutations in DNA), nor is it teratogenic (productive of birth defects) or carcinogenic (causative of cancer). Countless animal studies and human epidemiological studies support its relative safety in this regard.”
The paper’s abstract makes no mention of how the research reviewed was controlled for byproducts of smoking or other drugs, which are carcinogenic.

Russo states: “Additionally, there is a world of difference between drug abuse, and the judicious use of low doses of cannabinoids for therapeutic application in serious diseases.”

The paper’s abstract lacks basic information as to how much cannabis' relative carcinogenicity, congenital toxicity and heritable genotoxicity
could be a problem. It’s unclear if we should be singling out cannabis relative to other vectors. Even the research authors note other drugs damage DNA and cause the “acceleration of the aging process … including alcohol, tobacco, … stimulants and opioids.”

Other sources of epigenetic damage include life stressors like prohibition-related violence and incarceration. Sunburns and oxygen also damage DNA.

“Exposure to pharmaceutical and toxic chemicals, diet, stress, exercise, and other environmental factors are capable of eliciting positive or negative epigenetic modifications with lasting effects on development, metabolism and health. These can impact the body so profoundly as to permanently alter the epigenetic profile of an individual,” other reviews have noted.

Russo concludes: “It is high time to move beyond reefer madness and acknowledge the utility and safety of cannabis-based for the advancement of the public health.”

Friday, May 27, 2016

California Pot Legalization Debated During Historic Joint Session

by David Downs
Fri, May 27, 2016 at 1:05 PM

Not a single California legislator stated outright opposition to California’s pending marijuana-legalization initiative during historic hearings on the Adult Use of Marijuana Act in Sacramento this past Tuesday.

Rather, East Bay Assemblyman Bill Quirk stated his "strong support" for it, and Assemblyman Kenneth Gipson from Los Angeles predicted it "is going to be the law of the land," and urged his colleagues to plan its implementation.
The California statehouse in Sacramento, site of the historic joint session on AUMA Tuesday.
  • The California statehouse in Sacramento, site of the historic joint session on AUMA Tuesday.
The unique "joint session" was a new requirement for the initiative process, and the hearing for five legislative committees offered a platform for initiative proponents and opponents to road test their arguments. The testimony was a powerful indicator of just how far the Golden State has evolved on cannabis.

A nonpartisan summary by Aaron Edwards of the Legislative Analyst's Office finds AUMA would generate enforcement savings of $100 million and several hundred million to one billion dollars in tax revenues.  

California Medical Association Senior Vice President Janus Norman called AUMA comprehensive, well-crafted, and research-focused.  According to the event’s livestream, and notes taken by Dale Gieringer, Director of California NORML, Norman said it was the "beginning of the end of marijuana prohibition in California," and "just a first step.”

Drug Policy Alliance lobbyist Glenn Backes said it is a myth that ‘no one goes to jail for marijuana’. California has over 13,000 felony arrests for marijuana per year, and most could be eliminated or reduced to misdemeanors under AUMA.  

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition leader and former narcotics officer Diane Goldstein testified that marijuana prohibition did not work.

Legalization foe and California Police Officers Association representative Shaun Rundle said marijuana is associated with murder, and pot enforcement already costs police millions each year.

California Police Chiefs Association Legislative Committee Chair Lauren Michaels wished AUMA had a ban on indoor cultivation, more detailed licensing, smaller farm size limits, and a firewall layer of independent distributors with no other stake in the industry.

Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana leader Carla Lowe warned AUMA would create a thriving illegal home grow market.

Self-appointed "Bishop" Ron Allen of the International Faith Based Coalition called for ongoing prohibition to protect children. But California NAACP head Alice Huffman said AUMA would strike a blow against "Jim Crow justice" in America,  and said the law’s drafters addressed every single one of the NAACP’s concerns.

Veteran police lobbyist John Lovell said AUMA would mandate licensing of drug trafficking bosses, but proponents said that’s not true. Regulators have wide discretion to reject license applications.

Some lawmakers worried pot shops would become public nuisances like liquor stores. But activists noted that cities can ban pot shops under AUMA, while they cannot ban liquor stores.

California Hospital Association legislative advocate Connie Delgado said taxing and regulating cannabis might increase marijuana-related emergency room visits, as was reported in Colorado, and cause more infants to be exposed to marijuana.

Lawmakers also worried about the potential for more marijuana DUIs, or the potential for regulatory capture by a legal cannabis industry.

California Growers Association president President Hezekiah Allen said his organization members are split on AUMA. “No consensus exists,” he said.

A new poll released this week by PPIC finds that 60 percent of likely California voters generally support legalizing marijuana. Up from 56 percent last year.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Study Says Pot Prohibitionists Lying About 'Protecting Kids'

by David Downs
Thu, May 26, 2016 at 10:58 AM

Critics of taxing and regulating cannabis for adults like to say that ending prohibition is too big a risk to the nation’s youth. But scientific research continues to show that argument to be fallacious. Teen abuse and use of pot is falling in America amid record support for medical and recreational use laws.

The latest study released this week comes from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, which looked at 12 years of drug use data on kids ages 12 to 17. As medical cannabis and recreational laws spread, problem pot use by teens dropped 24 percent from 2002 to 2013. Kids also reported 10 percent fewer, not more, instances of pot use in 2012, than in 2002.
Handcuffing kids for pot is not a valid public health approach, critics say. - VIA FLICKR STEVEN DEPOLO
  • via flickr Steven Depolo
  • Handcuffing kids for pot is not a valid public health approach, critics say.

Opponents of pot law reform in California have said this Spring that they think legalization would increase risk to kids. Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, a police lobby-backed Democratic senator from Stockton issued a 'what about the kids’ statement' this May, reports show.

Anti-pot activist and rehab clinic businessman Roger Morgan stated Sunday that:

“It is a lie to say this will protect children. Proponents of this act want to tax and regulate marijuana and teach our kids not to use it. Absurd! Expanding the availability and access will increase adolescent use as it has in Colorado and Washington. … In the interest of public safety, environmental protection and the future for our children, defeating full legalization isn’t adequate. We need to roll back what exists …”

But those opponents really care about their own paychecks, reporter Lee Fang from The Intercept writes.

The biggest funders of opposition to changing California cannabis laws are the prison guard managers lobby, and the police chiefs lobby — two groups who benefit from the 700,000 Americans arrested each year for pot crimes. In 2014, police seized more property from U.S. citizens using forfeiture laws than the nation's burglars collectively stole.

“The membership of the CCSO opposes the full-blown legalization of marijuana,” Paul Curry, a lobbyist for the California Correctional Supervisor’s Association, told The Intercept. Curry said prison guard supervisors do not want to see a society that encourages pot use and said many of his members are grandparents who are concerned about their children.
Contrary to the ‘sky is falling’ rhetoric from prohibitionists, researchers have found that drops in teen pot use and abuse “were accompanied by reductions in behavioral problems, including fighting, property crimes and selling drugs. The researchers found that the two trends are connected. As kids became less likely to engage in problem behaviors, they also became less likely to have problems with marijuana,” researchers stated.

Treating kids with psychiatric issues like anxiety, and depression — not expelling them from school for related pot use — could be improving American teens’ prospects, researchers found.

“We were surprised to see substantial declines in marijuana use and abuse," he said. "We don't know how legalization is affecting young marijuana users, but it could be that many kids with behavioral problems are more likely to get treatment earlier in childhood, making them less likely to turn to pot during adolescence. But whatever is happening with these behavioral issues, it seems to be outweighing any effects of marijuana decriminalization."

"Other research shows that psychiatric disorders earlier in childhood are strong predictors of marijuana use later on," Grucza said. "So it's likely that if these disruptive behaviors are recognized earlier in life, we may be able to deliver therapies that will help prevent marijuana problems — and possibly problems with alcohol and other drugs, too."

The study was published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. It used federal teen drug use survey data, and grant money from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The American Academy of Pediatrics as well as the American Medical Association both support cannabis decriminalization to spare children and parents the public health harms of the pot prohibition — which include the now-routine killing and maiming of children during police raids.

This year, the California Medical Association has endorsed the California legalization measure the Adult Use of Marijuana Act — on similar public health grounds. The CMA states:
[AUMA] includes safeguards for children, workers, local governments and small businesses and strict anti-monopoly provisions and the toughest warning label and marketing-to-kids laws in the nation. It provides hundreds of millions of dollars in annual funding – the highest level ever by any state in America – for youth drug prevention, education and treatment programs.  

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Oakland Marijuana Dispensary Harborside Makes CBS Morning News

by David Downs
Thu, May 19, 2016 at 8:38 AM

The massive Oakland medical-cannabis dispensary Harborside Health Center is slated to appear this morning on the national show CBS This Morning, which reaches several million viewers across the broadcast network.
Steve DeAngelo of Harborside Health Center isn't intimidated by the crackdown. - CRAIG MERRILL/FILE PHOTO
  • Craig Merrill/file photo
  • Steve DeAngelo of Harborside Health Center isn't intimidated by the crackdown.
Harborside founder Steve DeAngelo has been working for months with CBS on a report about senior cannabis use, the dispensary writes us. The segment will air locally on KPIX Channel 5 in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The issue of senior access and usage of medical cannabis is blooming nationwide, now that there’s 36 states with a medical marijuana or cannabidiol law. Federal prosecutors are under orders to ignore state-legal medical pot activity.

Medical-marijuana legalization is allowing for more advanced modalities that avoid raw, smoked psychoactive flowers in favor of non-smoked, less euphoric and more accessible forms. Seniors are using infused hand rubs for arthritis, as well tinctures for pain and insomnia, and infused lozenges for conditions like Alzheimer’s Dementia.

Harborside has worked on senior outreach for years, and founder Stephen DeAngelo believes seniors hold the key to ending the war on cannabis. They have a ton of health problems that cannabis helps manage, they’re one of the few holdout opposition groups, and they vote.

For head of senior outreach for Harborside, Sue Taylor, won a permit from Berkeley this May to open the East Bay’s first dispensary to cater to seniors.

Over in Florida, seniors will decide the fate of medical cannabis legalization in the Fall, and support is at a record-high 80 percent, polls show.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Oakland Green Lights Drug War Reparations, Passes Marijuana Equity Program

by David Downs
Tue, May 17, 2016 at 11:22 PM

Oaklanders who’ve been jailed for pot in the last ten years will go to the front of the line for legal weed permits under a revolutionary new program enacted by the City Council Tuesday night.

The first-in-the-nation idea promises to make international headlines, and redefine the terms of reparations in post-Drug War America.  

Game Changer: Councilmember Desley Brooks
  • Game Changer: Councilmember Desley Brooks
Council voted unanimously to pass the historic “Equity Permit Program,” which bucks national trends in legal pot policy. Normally, convicted drug felons are barred from entering the legal cannabis trade. Instead, Oakland will reward them.

The recently incarcerated, as well as residents of a half-dozen police beats in East Oakland, will be uniquely eligible for medical cannabis industry permits under the new Program. The plan will help reward neighborhoods and people hardest hit by the drug war, councilmembers said.

Recent reports show that minorities are both: under-represented among legal canna-business owners; and over-represented in the criminal justice system for pot.

Critics say handing out every other new permit to a tiny group of people will create a licensing bottleneck that will cripple Oakland's vast expansion in licensed medical pot nurseries, farms, kitchens, stores, and testing labs. The Program was opposed by the majority of the city’s own Cannabis Regulatory Commission, who worked on the expansion for 18 months. Councilmember Desley Brooks added the permit program as a last-minute amendment, which passed unanimously at 1 a.m. one week ago. 

Councilwoman Brooks said Tuesday night that criticism of the Equity Permit Program amounted to “people wanting to protect their self-interest."

One member of the public tweeted that was  “a laughable quote when you see the districts she hand-picked [and] excluded West Oakland.”

Many of the Program’s winners reside in Brooks’ district. 

Female minority canna-business lobby Supernova Women requested more police beats be added to the list.

The amendments passed after generally supportive public comment, with council consensus to keep tweaking the scope of Equity Program, through fast-track amendments.

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