California is on course to right some of the wrongs inflicted upon disadvantaged communities during the “War on Drugs.” The Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) announced on Oct. 9 that it has awarded over $10 million in equity grant funding under Senate Bill 1294. Ten local jurisdictions received equity grants ranging from $100,000 to nearly two million dollars. The grants are allocated as follows:
City of Los Angeles – $1,834,156.38
City of Oakland – $1,657,201.65
County of Humboldt – $1,338,683.13
City & County of San Francisco – $1,338,683.13
City of Sacramento – $1,197,119.34
City of Long Beach – $913,991.77
City of San Jose – $560,082.30
County of Santa Cruz – $560,082.30
City of Coachella – $500,000.00
City of Palm Springs – $100,000.00
Among the list of recipients is Humboldt County, which received a proportionately larger cut of the funding due to the high concentration of cannabis cultivation in the Emerald Triangle that once served half of the entire national cannabis market. Humboldt County’s Director of Economic Development Scott Adair oversees the county’s cannabis equity funding program called Project Trellis, which will receive the equity grant.
“The application process that was released by the BCC was based on a point system, and the applications were awarded a certain number of points depending on the responses and scoring in the application,” Adair told CULTURE. “Even though Humboldt County has a lower population, the scope and impact that the ‘War on Drugs’ had on Humboldt was very broad. That added value and points to our application.”
Grants were allocated based on a scoring mechanism, and some communities that were entitled to an award didn’t even apply. In addition, the BCC changed the application protocol mid-way through the process, so some jurisdictions missed out.
An especially high level of damage was inflicted by various administrations upon Humboldt County residents—who’ve grown cannabis for generations. “Humboldt County has been growing cannabis since the ’60s. Prior to the legalization in other states, more than half of the cannabis consumed in the United States was coming from the Emerald Triangle. So, when the ‘War on Drugs’ began, through operations like CAMP [1983’s Campaign Against Marijuana Planting] and [1990’s] Operation Green Sweep, Humboldt was significantly impacted.”
“It feels like the state has acknowledged that the ‘War on Drugs’ actually did have an impact on California communities, and it did hurt local residents. We’d like to use the equity funding to repair some of the cultural damage that was done to those residents. It’s a correction to the industry that should have happened years and years ago.”
Even county leadership in the area would like to see a reduction in enforcement and eradication efforts, which at times appear to be blatant examples of overkill and misspent funding. Over time, the tactics of law enforcement regarding cannabis cultivation have evolved.
“What we hope what will happen is that the equity funding can be used to right some of the wrongs,” Adair explained. “It feels like the state has acknowledged that the ‘War on Drugs’ actually did have an impact on California communities, and it did hurt local residents. We’d like to use the equity funding to repair some of the cultural damage that was done to those residents. It’s a correction to the industry that should have happened years and years ago.”
Some of the funding will go to the county’s Local Equity Program. The Humboldt County Cannabis Local Equity Program eligibility criteria includes people convicted of cannabis offenses, from poverty-stricken areas and “any woman, person of color, or LGBTQ individual who has or worked in, or currently works in the cannabis industry in Humboldt County.” Project Trellis also offers micro-grants and loans to businesses to combat the impact of cannabis criminalization.