With cannabis legal for recreational use in California, of course, the question comes up of what happens to all of those who were impacted by laws that existed before it was legal for recreational use. On April 21st, the state of California announced that it will be providing $30M in funding for communities disproportionately affected by cannabis criminalization. These funds are meant to be distributed in the form of low-interest loans or grants and are said to be allocated for helping individuals set up legitimate businesses in the cannabis industry. Some of the support includes but is not limited to; technical assistance, reduced or waived licensing fees, recruitment assistance, training, retention of a qualified and diverse workforce, and emergency business resilience.
You can check the list of cities and counties that qualify for the funding here.
This is not the first effort to address what happens when something that’s always been illegal, is now suddenly legal. Rightly, many are making efforts to get prisoners released who are in jail for things that would not be illegal today. It seems these cases have to be petitioned on a case-by-case basis, and while it’s unfortunate there isn’t a more streamlined process for this, it’s nice to see there’s progress being made in this area.
It will be interesting to see what comes in the future in terms of addressing these types of situations. In many ways, states like California are setting the pace for how things can look.
Now we get to the part of the article that leaves the land of empirical and enters the world of opinion. I think it’s good that the state is looking at ways to address communities that have been affected by the legislation of things that were once illegal but are now legal, however, I believe there is still far too large a barrier to access when it comes to addressing people who are currently imprisoned or under some kind of a restrictive legal order. There are people who are in jail right now for something that they wouldn’t end up in jail for before, and if that’s the case, their court cases should automatically be looked at as a result of a shifting legislative approach.
California is providing a blueprint for how things can look when legalization comes around, some things are going to be done right and some things are going to be done wrong. We’re not going to know for sure what decisions were right or wrong until we have the ability to look back and see what’s come from the decisions or regulations put in place. However, it seems like revisiting legal decisions regarding individuals as it relates to drug charges should just be a given, and it would be great to see that approach adopted as more states open up to this idea moving forward.