SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — As the city of Sacramento accepts applications for 10 retail cannabis dispensary permits, one local organization is asking for more transparency during the selection process.
The Cannabis Opportunity Reinvestment and Equity program was established in Sacramento to even the playing field in the cannabis space.
The program’s goal is to address the “negative impacts of disproportionate enforcement of cannabis-related regulation.”
“We currently have 30 retail dispensaries in Sacramento, but zero of them are Black-owned,” Brandon Bolton of United Core Alliance explained.
To change that, the city council is issuing 10 new storefront cannabis dispensary permits.
“I think that these 10 new retail licenses give Black and brown individuals a chance to join the legal cannabis space,” Bolton said.
Bolton believes the new permits are a great step forward but said there are concerns with how the city will choose who will receive them.
“I don’t want any conflicts of interest, and I would like the city to be as transparent as they can,” he said.
Bolton said organizations like his weren’t invited to give input on how the permits will be awarded.
“Having that input, having people concerned about the process is a real thing, and I appreciate that, and I think it’s good that we talk about it,” Davina Smith, the Sacramento program manager for Cannabis Management, said.
Smith said her department went to great lengths to ensure a fair process, like speaking with other equity programs around the country and delegating the selection process.
“Originally, we have thought about, you know, my office picking the evaluators and we thought let’s just avoid any appearance whatsoever,” Smith explained. “So we put it off to the city manager’s office, and they graciously agreed to take that on.”
The evaluators selected by the city manager’s office will choose the 10 most “prepared” applicants.
As another way to avoid a conflict, no names or identifying information will be included in the request for qualification process.
“We have these first 10 permits in. We’re going to go back to city council in the future and just see like, ‘OK this is how it’s going. How does the city council feel about opening up more of these opportunities?’” Smith said.
For Bolton, it’s another step towards equality in the cannabis space, something his organization hopes to continue.
“Let’s continue to have this open communication channel, utilize the information that we are gathering as a community and start to implement that into the procedures that you develop,” he said.