Some revenue from cannabis sales taxes and fees would be used to create a neighborhood health fund with the goal of revitalizing communities damaged by the war on drugs under a plan advanced Tuesday by the Los Angeles City Council.
On a 12-0 vote, the council directed the city attorney to draft an election ordinance and resolutions to place a ballot measure before city voters in the Nov. 6 general election entitled the Cannabis Reinvestment Act, which would set aside a certain amount of tax money collected from pot sales for the health fund.
The money collected for the fund would include a 1 percent gross receipts tax on all commercial activity, a $5 surcharge for tickets sold for a temporary cannabis event and a $5 surcharge for any test of cannabis products conducted by a licensed commercial cannabis testing laboratory.
The fund would be used to support youth leadership and civic engagement, after-school programs and educational opportunities, as well as improved local health services in minority communities “as they recover from pernicious drug laws,” according to a motion introduced by Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson.
Marijuana has been legal for recreational sales and use in California since Jan. 1, and the Los Angeles City Council drafted a series of rules and regulations last year in preparation for the new industry.
Harris-Dawson, who represents many Latino and African-American neighborhoods in South Los Angeles, outlined his support for the health fund in a letter to the Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee before it considered a vote on the fund in May.
“Even as we stand on this precipice, we must recognize that we stand squarely in the shadow of the unjust War on Drugs. This atrocity targeted Angelinos of color, decimated neighborhoods, ripped families apart and criminalized the illness of addiction,” Harris-Dawson wrote. “Today, we have an opportunity to build new systems and shape an industry in ways that recognizes wrongs, respect all residents, and intentionally builds a more equitable society.”
Citing several Drug Policy Alliance studies, Harris-Dawson said that 80 percent of people federally incarcerated for drug offenses are black or Latino, and that black Angelinos are arrested for marijuana possession at seven times the rate of whites.