Cannabis Opportunity Reinvestment & Equity (CORE) Is Anything But The Name Implies
CORE was a big topic at the 5/18 (Item 28) & 5/25 (Item 18) City Council mtgs. Callers had good things to say about CORE. But for some, it has been more like giving you a bicycle for the Benz they stole from you!
The marijuana industry is a new multi-billion dollar vehicle that has heavily benefited from the mass incarceration of mostly Black and Brown people. In 2019 the city council decided to start to pay that debt back to the community with the CORE Program. The CORE program was intended to provide resources to help those most heavily impacted by the racist and classist war on drugs. To be specific:
“Individuals and immediate family members could qualify for CORE program participation if they lived in a low-income household and had a cannabis-related arrest in Sacramento between 1980 and 2011 or if they resided in an identified community impacted by the War on Drugs for at least five years between 1980 and 2011.”
The CORE program aims at reducing barriers by waiving various fees for two years, offering no interest loans and grants, as well as business and industry education to rev up business in communities of color.
The 5/18 & 5/28 Council Meetings:
With the program set to end in April 2021, the Council was planning to vote to end or extend. They were considering waiting until they do some research on the success of the program, before continuing it.
Speaking of success, the program got $8.8 million dollars and has produced 16 businesses so far. Or about .5 million dollars per business, and some of that money will be paid back by the impacted community member.
The public comments were mostly positive. Community members were grateful to have any assistance to break into the cannabis industry. We heard from an adult who had their parents stolen from them as a child, a veterans who had been dishonorably discharged, and others impacted by the criminalization of cannabis. Some said the program needs more grants, instead of loans, longer term business assistance, more retail space/permits, and approval of different types of cannabis businesses.
But these feel like breadcrumbs yo!
According to the CA NAACP here in Sacramento Black people are STILL 5.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, in spite of similar usage rates. (One public caller said Black people are actually 29 times more likely in Sacramento)
Two years of discounts, classes, and money you have to pay back feels a little like you got a brand new Mercedes Benz stolen, and now they’re returning a bicycle, with a flat tire, and no seat, that they will sell you on a no interest payment plan, and then take back in 2 years.
I mean...but dang….can we at least get a Honda we can keep?
Malaki Seku-Amen shared this frustration in his public comment
"we need the City to stop f**king around and get serious about making racial equity real in the local marijuana industry"
In the end the City Council gave the program the green light for another year while they conduct their research. In a subsequent meeting on 5/25, Councilmember Loloee was called out for not meeting with CORE participants about his moratorium.
Folxs. There is soooo much here that we'll have to continue this next time. IssaLot.