SACRAMENTO -- The green is getting the green light in Sacramento.
"Council members, this item presents a great opportunity to launch Sacramento's newest industry with decency and fairness," said Malakai Amen, CEO of the California Urban Partnership.
Equity in the burgeoning recreational pot industry -- a priority with legalization on the horizon for the state of California.
"I feel there isn't a community that hasn't been affected by the war on drugs. I myself have had a cannabis arrest," said Shelby Lucero.
Sacramento's City Council unanimously got behind a program to offer minorities, women and veterans consultation with industry mentors, fee reductions and expungement of criminal records so they too can become part of the green rush this new market will undoubtedly bring.
"Once they got that felony, they had a hard time getting jobs and they fell back into what they knew. They began that underground economy of selling marijuana. They've been in and out of jail for years, and here we are, all these years later and in a month or so it's going to be legal, legal to use, legal to sell. And what's happening is those same communities that were stigmatized for marijuana are now being locked out of the industry due to lack of resources and funding," said Kevin Daniel.
The council has committed $1 million city dollars over two years, with the hope that the fund becomes self-sustaining as those graduating out of the business incubator, pay back into it through taxes.
The city council also planned to push a package of pot rules and regulations intended to allow some medical dispensaries to become recreational and cap the number of city dispensaries at 30.
A lottery system would determine who gets new licenses.
Permits that will govern multiple uses under one operation will have to be reviewed during a public hearing if any uses change.
Council members are very concerned about being able to monitor applications for new pot businesses in their districts in real time.
"There's no prescription for this...no one in the state has done what we've done. so it's not like you can go to another city and copy it and say this is how we'll do it. We've had to create this wheel on our own," said District Five Councilman Jay Schenirer.
"In order for you to change things that have happened in the past, you must invest in those communities in the present," said Derrell Roberts, endorsing the direction his city council is taking.