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Oakland Keeps Pushing on Creative Cannabis Regulation

Bill Weinberg

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With polls showing big support for California’s legalization initiative this November, an Oakland city councilmember is seeking not only tax revenues but a direct cut of profits from local cannabis businesses.

Desley Brooks is the same councilmember who pushed last year’s successful “Equity Amendment,” which prioritizes cannabis convicts and areas with high marijuana arrest rates for new canna-business permits—an effort to address the racist legacy of marijuana prohibition and the War on Drugs.
The new one is intended to augment the strapped city’s budget and fund social programs. Her measure would require any new Oakland cannabis company to make the city government a 25 percent partner. Companies that don’t cut Oakland in would not get a permit and therefore not be allowed to operate under local law—or state law, which mandates compliance with municipal ordinances.

But Brooks may find it difficult to get this one passed. State Assemblyman Rob Bonta raised conflict-of-interest concerns to the San Francisco Chronicle: “If the city is an owner, it’s also a regulator. So it’s regulating itself.” East Bay Express weekly’s Legalization Nation blog, which has closely followed the development of Oakland’s cannabis industry, warns that the proposal “might run afoul of several laws—such as state medical-pot regulations that ban an entity from owning multiple cannabis licenses.”

The bill will be discussed next week in the City Council’s Public Safety Committee.

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