Oakland, CA – On Tuesday, May 17, Councilmembers Loren Taylor and Treva Reid joined community advocates Deacon Hellen Harvey, Charles Reed, Gamila Abdelhahim, and John Jones III, to showcase their full support of the END HARM (Emerald New Deal Healing And Reparations Measure) charter amendment. If passed by voters in November, this innovative ballot measure will funnel Oakland’s Cannabis Business Tax revenue into Black and Brown communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs which in Oakland led to over 12,655 individual arrests for cannabis offenses between 1995 and 2015 with 77% of those incarcerated being Black and 15% being LatinX. Supporters of END HARM anticipate more than $12M being allocated to support social equity investments, including but not limited to:
Reentry programs and support for the formerly incarcerated;
Community-based mental health services;
Affordable and transitional housing access; and,
Workforce development and training.
Cannabis Equity Program participants (business owners impacted by the war on drugs)
At least 5 votes are needed to place this measure on the November Ballot and the over 1,200 community supporters of END HARM are hopeful for unanimous support from all eight council members. When asked about their authorship of the END HARM amendment, Councilmembers Taylor and Reid each shared the importance of enacting this reparative legislation.
“As public servants, it is our duty to push forward policies that eradicate the systemic harm caused by former leadership. The War on Drugs in Oakland, among other institutional factors, has had a lasting negative impact on our city’s Black and Brown communities. Now that marijuana is legalized, it is only right that the very system that over-criminalized cannabis usage in certain areas, gives back to those same communities,” said Councilmember Loren Taylor, “I am grateful for Councilmembers Reid and Gallo who agree and have joined me in uplifting this legislation. I look forward to seeing the transformational impact it has on our community.”
“I represent District 7 where the Emerald New Deal (END) grew out of community organizing in District 7's Sobrante Park. A district with over 65,000 people, with 80% Black and Brown neighbors, is struggling under the weight of decades of racism, disparities, inequities, and disinvestment. The War on Drugs has impacted our family stability, housing stability, health, and educational and financial wellness leading to levels of poverty and mass incarceration that will take years to heal. As national support rises for the decriminalization of cannabis use we must ensure the Cannabis Business Tax revenue is dedicated to benefitting historically impacted Black and Brown communities. I’m thankful for the strong community coalition and their early engagement with my office to partner and help advance equity in our collective efforts to END HARM now!” said Councilmember Reid.
Although unable to attend Tuesday’s press conference, Councilmember Noel Gallo is also fully supportive of the measure.
The Emerald New Deal is already endorsed by more than 40 local organizations, including the Black Cultural Zone, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Urban Strategies Council, Spiritwurx and West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project. Community advocates who are leading the effort to mobilize city-wide support, emphasize how significant the impact it will have on Oaklanders who are healing from the War on Drugs.
“The Emerald New Deal is a historic ordinance that will fulfill some of the promises made when we first legalized marijuana and established the cannabis program. We are doing this not just for those who have suffered, but also for those who continue to deal with the effects of broken families and trauma, and for our future generations. The Emerald New Deal will redirect the cannabis business tax revenue and support programs, initiatives, businesses, organizations and services that can lift our future generations from the stranglehold of inequity and racism...” shared Gamila Abdelhahim; “...we now turn to all other City Council representatives and ask them to acknowledge the harm that has been caused, be in this monumental moment with us, and vote to lift our future generations.”
John Jones III asserted, “As it relates to the War on Drugs, it is not enough to simply acknowledge and/or apologize, but rather provide restitution and reparations for the harm inflicted upon the Black and Brown community.”
The END HARM legislation is scheduled to be presented to the Community & Economic Development meeting on Tuesday, May 24th 2022. Residents are encouraged to share their feedback on the initiative during public comment.