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Supervisors to consider needle exchange program, cannabis businesses

01/25/21

Below are excerpts from the entire article published by the San Diego Union Tribune

 

The San Diego County supervisors this week will consider allowing cannabis growers and sellers to operate in unincorporated areas and will vote on whether to support a needle exchange program for intravenous drug users.

The Board of Supervisors had considered similar proposals last year.

In March 2020, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher proposed the county lift its ban on needle exchange programs and develop a strategy to reduce harm for syringe users. The board instead voted 3-2 to form a subcommittee to work on the proposal and return it in a few months

Last year Fletcher also proposed allowing cannabis businesses to operate in the unincorporated area. His motion did not receive a second from another board member last August.

A similar proposal will go before the board Wednesday.

According to a board letter Fletcher and Vargas signed, the new permitting process would prioritize social equity and create business opportunities for Black and Brown communities that were hardest hit by the crackdown on drug use

“We know that many communities have been devastated by the war on drugs, and they have been disproportionately impacted by an inequitable criminal justice system, and we seek to move forward into a better future by trying to undo some of these past wrongs,” Fletcher said.

Armand King, chief operating officer for the nonprofit Paving Great Futures, said at the press conference that he is an example of overcriminalization in the Black community. He served three years in prison for crimes related to marijuana.

Now most legal marijuana businesses in San Diego are owned by White people, not minorities, advocates say.

“It is imperative that we look at this with a social equity lens and we truly, truly implement a social equity plan with everything related to cannabis,” King said.