Senate Approves California’s First Statewide Cannabis Equity Bill
SACRAMENTO – This week, Senate Bill 1294, the Cannabis Collaboration and Inclusion Act, was approved on the Senate Floor. This bill, authored by Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), will guide the formation and development of California’s first statewide cannabis equity program, while supporting local jurisdictions such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento that have established local equity programs.
“Following the 2016 voter approval of Proposition 64, legalizing adult-use cannabis, our cities and state will soon reap the economic benefits of this growing industry,” said Senator Bradford. “The concern is, what about those who were convicted of cannabis related charges, even within the last two years? What about entire communities who have endured devastating, generational impacts from the war on drugs? SB 1294 will address these issues and ensure that those who want to participate have real opportunities to join and thrive.”
Four cities have established local equity programs for their respective cannabis licensing and permitting processes. These programs focus on increasing inclusivity among business owners and employees in the cannabis industry. Equity applicants include individuals living in disadvantaged, underserved communities and those who have been negatively impacted by decades of harsh drug policies. SB 1294 requires the establishment of a task force through the Bureau of Cannabis Control which will provide guidelines and recommendations for the implementation of a statewide equity program. In addition, this bill will create a new position within the Bureau to provide technical support to equity applicants, and assist equity licensees with job training, regulatory compliance, capital investments and low-interest or zero-interest business loans.
“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. Although California isn’t the first state to legalize the adult use and sale of cannabis, we can be the first state to do it right – by including those who were once punished, but can now contribute.”
Senator Bradford represents the Los Angeles County communities of Carson, Compton, Gardena, Harbor City, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, Lennox, San Pedro, Watts, Willowbrook, and Wilmington