Morning Report: Social Equity Programs Coming to Local Cannabis | Voice of San Diego

Morning Report

Morning Report: Social Equity Programs Coming to Local Cannabis

A billboard advertising a Kearny Mesa dispensary / Image vis Shutterstock
A billboard advertising a Kearny Mesa dispensary / Image via Shutterstock

Before cannabis became legal for adult use in California, many of its backers argued it was needed to stop the disproportionate prosecution of Black, Brown and low-income communities. But many of those same people have had a hard time breaking into the industry.

To correct the injustices brought by the War on Drugs, municipalities across the state have experimented with social equity programs, which typically offer tax breaks and other incentives.

Both San Diego city and county are late to the game, but Jackie Bryant explains why that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Other municipalities have struggled to create meaningful social equity programs and there are some lessons to be learned in retrospect.

The one in Los Angeles, for example, has been slow to get off the ground and mired in complaints that it’s too bureaucratic and actually harming the people it’s supposed to help. 

To get it right locally, the county is talking to a group of stakeholders, looking to tap an outside expert and having its Office of Racial Justice and Equity take the lead. At least one advocate, however, is concerned that the county’s rhetoric has yet to match its actions. 

Click here to read the full story. 

Mark your calendar: VOSD is hosting a panel discussion on this topic on Sept. 28. Bryant will be moderating. Register here for the free event.

National City Settles with Family of Earl McNeil 

The Union-Tribune broke the news late Tuesday night that National City settled a lawsuit brought by the family of a Black man who died in police custody. Earl McNeil’s death sparked near-weekly protests in the summer of 2018 and shut down at least one City Council meeting. The mayor and police chief responded with disdain for the activists who were demanding more information, and the police chief argued that people should expect force when officers respond to people in mental distress.

Activists disrupted a meeting of the National City Council on July 24, 2018, over the death of Earl McNeil. / Photo by Vito Di Stefano

Without admitting liability or guilt against any of the defendants, the city has now agreed to pay out $300,000 to McNeil’s widow and other family members. 

Months after McNeil’s death, the district attorney declined to press charges against the officers involved and the county’s medical examiner concluded he died of brain damage caused by respiratory arrest. 

The U-T also noted this week that “McNeil’s family has an active lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court against the maker of a restraint officers used to subdue McNeil the morning he slipped into a coma from which he never recovered.” 

In Other News

Correction: an earlier version of this Morning Report mislabeled the Urban Discovery Schools system as K-5. It serves K-12.

This Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx and Will Huntsberry, and edited by Megan Wood.

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