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Oakland leaders propose new marijuana tax

KRON4 News
KRON4 News
 2022-05-18

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OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — Oakland City Council members announced a proposed ballot measure on Tuesday known as the Emerald New Deal, which if approved, would move nearly $7 million in annual cannabis tax revenue from the city’s general fund to a separate fund to pay services for victims of the war on drugs.

“Between 1995 and 2015 more than 12,000 residents were incarcerated due to cannabis drug offenses,” City Council Member Loren Taylor said. “77% of those were black men and women.”

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Taylor, who Is one of the sponsors of the proposal, says the diverted funds would be used towards mental health services, housing support, and community and economic development.

Community members in support of the Emerald New Deal spoke at Tuesday’s press conference.

“We need that restitution, those reparations putting our money where our preverbal mouth is to make sure we are ensuring opportunities for people living today and in the future,” John Jones III said.

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If passed, the measure would create a nine person commission that would oversee and determine who qualifies for the services, which are aimed at helping people who were incarcerated or had family members in jail due to the war on drugs.

The plan would also reinvest some funds into the city’s cannabis equity program. However, James Anthony who’s an Oakland cannabis attorney and founder of the Oakland citizens for equity and prosperity, says the proposed measure is well meaning but misguided.

“Frankly it looks to me like the city council ducking its responsibilities and trying to shove them off onto the voters, Anthony said.

“The city council has the power to move all of that funding now and more importantly, the city council has the power to adjust the cannabis tax rates so it’s not to destroy the entire industry including the equity businesses.”

The proposal will go to the city council on May 24.

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