Sacramento Launches Program To Help Non-Violent Marijuana Offenders Become Cannabis Entrepreneurs

In a play to aid those disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs, the city of Sacramento has announced new plans to help non-violent offenders break into the marijuana industry.

Sacramento City Council announced their new Cannabis Opportunity Reinvestment and Equity (CORE) program on Thursday. Those involved with its development say CORE will help disadvantaged individuals find a place in California's booming cannabis industry.

"This is just the right thing to do," Councilman Jay Schenirer told The Sacramento Bee. "It's going to take some work, we're going to learn as we go, but I hope we can be both the statewide and national model."

The resources offered by the program will be available to those who were arrested for non-violent marijuana crimes between 1980 and 2011 as well as those who have family members who were arrested during that timeframe or who are from neighborhoods that saw disproportionate amounts of marijuana-related arrests. Those eligible will receive business coaching and won't have to pay the expensive permit fess associated with becoming a licensed cannabis businesses.

The initiative will especially help Black Americans, who are more likely to be arrested for nonviolent cannabis offences than others, according to Malaki Seku-Amen of the California Urban Partnership

"This has caused economic destruction and trauma in our community," Seku-Amen said. "This CORE program is going to help those who were disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs. It will help us who suffered generational poverty to benefit from the region's $4 billion industry in cannabis."

But some believe the city could still be doing more. Lynette Davies - a medical marijuana dispensary operator - says the permit-fee waiver will be helpful, but the bulk of the expense is in the many other costs associated with starting a business.

"In the city of Sacramento, they need some kind of fund to help them get started with the cost of business," Davies said. "I think it is imperative that if you do part of it, you do it right the whole way."

Nevertheless, the city's actions are a good first step on the road toward offering reparations for individuals and communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.

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