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Oakland’s groundbreaking cannabis equity program showing modest results so far

Alphonso Blunt stood outside a warehouse near 66th Avenue and San Leandro Street in Oakland and gazed with satisfaction at the Coliseum across the street. Behind him, a steady stream of customers walked through the glass doors of the warehouse and into his marijuana dispensary.

Nearly a year earlier, he had received his license to sell marijuana. After months of searching for financing and a building for his business, Blunt opened the doors to Blunts+Moore on Nov. 29, the first and still the only equity-owned cannabis dispensary operating in Oakland.

“It was life-changing for me to be able to sell cannabis legally across from the Coliseum,” said Blunt, who co-owns the business with his partner, Brittany Moore. “I pinch myself daily.”

Blunt, who had a felony marijuana possession conviction nearly a decade ago, is an example of a business success story out of Oakland’s cannabis equity program. Created in 2017, the program requires half of all cannabis permits to go to applicants who were prosecuted for marijuana-related crimes or were harmed by the broad impacts of the drug war. It also provides low-interest loans and other limited assistance to participants.

The program was touted for being one of the first in the country to attempt to repair damage that befell minority communities, and other cities, including Los Angeles, followed Oakland’s lead. Though the equity program is still in its early days, critics say it is not living up to its promise. [Read More @ San Francisco Chronicle]

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