Last year, the city of Oakland launched its equity permit program, an opportunity for longtime residents and city natives convicted of marijuana-related crimes to take advantage of the booming cannabis industry.
Alphonso T. Blunt Jr. and Brittany Moore are some of the first beneficiaries of the program. The two founders recently launched Blunts + Moore, the city’s first equity marijuana dispensary.
In 2015, Black people made up 77 percent of cannabis-related arrests, despite being just one-third of the city’s population. This compares to just 4 percent of white people.
“Oakland means a lot to me,” Blunt, a longtime Oakland resident, told the East Bay Express. “I’m hoping to help bring change to the city.”
To be eligible for the equity program applicants must have a cannabis conviction in the last 22 years or 10-year residency in a neighborhood with disproportionate cannabis arrests and an income of 80 percent or less than the city’s average.
The program passed in 2016 with a promise to remedy some of the damage done to Black communities caused by the criminalization of marijuana and harsh sentencing.
Although Blunt and Moore’s program got off the ground, the program has had it’s share of issues with implementation.
Four equity dispensary permits were issued in January, but Blunt’s is the first to open . “It feels amazing,” Blunt said. “I’m humbled and hungry.”
According to the SF Chronicle, city records show that 616 applicants applied to equity program as of September 2018.