It’s 2018 and recreational weed is now legal in California. It’s no secret that up until now,
the war on drugs – and specifically on marijuana –
has unfairly locked up a disproportionate number of people of color.
In an attempt to right those wrongs, the city of Oakland has mandated
that half of all weed business permits go to “equity applicants,”
or people who are low income and have a cannabis conviction,
or who live in a neighborhood in Oakland that’s been a major police target.
So now, established weed businesses like this one, called Nug,
are training these folks to become potrepreuners.
Careem Robinson is learning the business of cannabis, and at the end of his training,
he’ll get his own 1,000-square-foot greenhouse. He says this opportunity saved his life.
Two years ago I was ready to probably jump off a bridge.
And I believe in God and stuff, but I’m saying I had no hope at all. And I definitely didn’t have no plans that
I would own my own business and I grew weed before, but never like this. So I’m really excited.
Careem qualified for the equity program because he lives in an East Oakland neighborhood
with a disproportionately high number of cannabis-related arrests.
Now, he’s preparing to profit from a business he was once criminalized for.
Is this is the clone?
We are going to put the clone of the weed plant in the soil.
So I’m planting a marijuana plant.
The plants grow in what’s called the veg room, where they get 16 hours of light a day.
When they’re ready to flower, they’re taken to the bloom room.
Go that way?
We set them up in a certain position, like dominoes basically. One, then one, then one, then one.
So I put mine here?
Put yours right here in the middle like that.
What happens is it starts budding and when it starts budding, these white hairs, they start turning brown.
That’s how you know it’s mature. This is where the money,
or where the good stuff is made, at the top, not at the bottom.
So, this is the good stuff right here. It’s ready, almost.
The plants are left to dry for two weeks.
You guys use straight up hangers.
Real hangers yeah. And you see there’s different colors because there’s different strands.
Then trimmers remove the buds by hand.
This right here is where we keep our weed, our award-winning Premium Jack and other strands.
These are the pounds. You can take a look at them.
Every bag is a pound.
Every bag in here is a pound.
This is a pound of weed right here.
It’s all different kinds of strands.
Oakland’s statistics show how people of color like Careem have been unfairly targeted in the war on drugs.
The city’s population is 31% white, 30% black, and 30% Latino.
But in 2015, black people made up 77% of cannabis arrests. White people made up only 4%
even though studies have shown that both groups use marijuana at the same rate.
I’ve seen police, well, they came and they said they were coming for weed
and they chopped down all our plants and took me to jail and they put me on probation
for three months, I mean, three years.
They use weed as a gateway. So, now we don’t have to have probable cause to stop you.
You’re on probation for weed. We stop you.
And why are they targeting you?
‘Cause I’m black and I’m in Oakland.
Now that weed is legal, white entrepreneurs who have not been policed for cannabis
have found an immediate leg up.
Oakland’s equity program is trying to correct the racial disparity by encouraging
businesses like Nug to take on equity applicants.
In return for each applicant, Nug gets a general permit that could help them expand their business.
Nico Enea is the CFO of Bloom Innovations, the parent company of Nug.
He helped select Careem and the other equity applicants.
We are giving them fully automated, state of the art, light deprivation greenhouses.
They will have those greenhouses rent free for three years.
In addition, we’re giving them $10,000 for start-up funds.
It’s rewarding to see, and finding that right individual like Careem,
who appreciates the opportunity and wants to capitalize on it.
How much could he be making soon?
In excess of $100,000.
Other cities in California are following Oakland’s lead in making the marijuana industry more fair.
Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento each have their own equity programs.
If you were able to give a message to the city of Oakland, which we know has targeted people of color
and are now trying to sort of make amends with this equity program,
what would your message to Oakland be?
That they need to support the equity program more, so more people like me can get a chance
because when the other people are supporting this thing then they could look at me and just say,
“Well if it happened for him, maybe it could happen for me.”
Basically, I got a new start. I’m 40 years old, and at 38, I didn’t have nothing going for me.
I have hope now and I do have things working in my favor.
Read How To Grow Marijuana Legally In California Free Marijuana Guide
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How To Grow Marijuana Legally In California Free Marijuana Guide