When recreational cannabis becomes legal in California on Jan. 2, part of the focus — in Los Angeles, at any rate — will be on “social equity.” That’s the term for a set of guidelines meant to spread legalization’s wealth to neighborhoods that have gotten the worst of the drug wars. According to draft legislation currently moving through the City Council, for every general license approved for a pot shop, one license must also be approved for social equity reasons.
I’m fully in favor of legalization — here, there and everywhere. I wouldn’t stop with marijuana, either. Across-the-board decriminalization would allow us to reframe addiction as a medical issue, and treat it as such. No more mandatory sentences, no more addicts in prison simply because of drug use. It would also undermine the black market, and raise tax revenues that could be channeled, in part — as Los Angeles plans to do with 20% of its marijuana taxes — into recovery and rehabilitation.