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Economy

The Case for Weed Reparations

Oakland is leading the nation in defining what racial equity means by revising its medical cannabis business permit process to favor applicants who’ve been swept up in the war on drugs.
In Oakland, a new pot equity program is aimed at encouraging greater participation by African Americans in the city's booming cannabis trade.
In Oakland, a new pot equity program is aimed at encouraging greater participation by African Americans in the city's booming cannabis trade. Jeff Chiu/AP

We often forget that an abundance of living-wage and wealth-creating jobs exist in low-income communities. Unfortunately, they happen to be in the drug-selling business.

For many decades, law enforcement has been directed to lock up anyone who tries to make a living in this field, especially if they are black. As criminal justice scholar Michelle Alexander wrote in a 2013 op-ed for The New York Times: “We’ve spent billions of dollars, arrested and caged millions of people, destroyed countless families and futures, and yet marijuana remains as popular and plentiful as ever. Why has this insanity continued for so long?”