City Councilor Kim Janey recently introduced a draft of a new ordinance ensuring equity for minority business owners when it comes to the marijuana industry.
The ordinance calls for the development of an equity program in which marijuana business equity applicants must meet three out of the following five guidelines:
- A person who has resided in an area of disproportionate impact for at least five of the past 10 years.
- A person who has a past conviction for the possession, sale or trafficking of marijuana, who has been a resident of Boston for the past 12 months; OR a person who is married to or is a child of a person with a past conviction for the possession or sale of marijuana, who has been a resident of Boston for the past 12 months.
- A person who resided in the City of Boston for at least the past five years.
- A person of Black, African American, Hispanic or Latino descent.
- A person whose annual household income is below 400 percent of the federal poverty level.
Janey believes it is important to have equity when it comes to this booming industry.
“The war on drugs has unfairly targeted people of color for decades,” she said.
According to NAACP, whites and blacks use drugs at similar rates, but black people are incarcerated six times as often as white people.
“We need to correct the harms and right the wrongs that have been caused because of mass incarceration,” she said.
“We have seen what happens with liquor licenses if there is no intention of promoting equity,” she added.
Janey is proposing the city would only consider and approve licenses from the equity applicants for two years. Afterward, they would approve equity licenses on a two to one ratio with other applicants.
Other councilors applauded Janey for the ordinance.
“I am so proud of you. You are taking the bull by the horns,” said Councilor Lydia Edwards. “You are making history. I am 100 percent right there with you. You are setting a table where all are welcome and figuring out how to do this right.”
Edwards went on to say if they don’t pass this ordinance, then they have learned nothing from the liquor license “debacle” they are still dealing with to this day.
“This can’t come a moment too soon,” Councilor Michelle Wu added.
Wu said this ordinance will help make sure that not only those with millions of dollars can thrive in this new industry.