Capitol Alert

New California pot law aims to help people the War on Drugs hurt most

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Thursday a bill hailed by supporters as a way to begin addressing the disproportionate effect the War on Drugs had on minority communities.

Senate Bill 1294, sponsored by Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, allows local jurisdictions in the state to apply to the Bureau of Cannabis Control for a grant to help minority cannabis entrepreneurs in various ways, such as waiving permitting or license fees and providing technical assistance.

The bill also allocates $10 million to provide that assistance.

The signing was hailed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council and the American Civil Liberties Union of California.

“When voters approved Proposition 64 (legalizing commercial cannabis sales), they wanted the new industry to be open and inclusive, accessible and representative,” UFCW Executive Director James Araby said in a statement.

Araby said the bill will provide aid to “individuals disproportionately affected by the criminalization of cannabis.”

In a supporting statement, the ACLU of California said, “Ultimately, (this law) will reduce barriers to entry and ensure that all Californians have a fair chance at becoming successful in the rapidly growing cannabis marketplace.”

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7934, @andrewsheeler