The Latest on Licensing in Oakland

Licensing for cannabis businesses in Oakland has been stalled, without any official explanation. Just today, the city staff announced in an email that licensing is on hold until the City Council resolves several pending proposed amendments to the licensing program.

One set of proposed amendments comes from the Cannabis Commission, which recommended changes to the controverial equity program. The recommended changes include expanding the equity program to add individuals from more neighborhoods in Oakland, broader categories of individuals incarcerated for cannabis offenses, and grandfathering for existing businesses.

A second set of proposed amendments comes from Council Member Desley Brooks, supported by Council Members Larry Reid and Noel Gallo. Their proposed amendments would add a five-year Oakland residency requirement for any license. They would also require every Oakland cannabis licensee to grant the city a 25% ownership interest in the licensed business, as well as the right to select a board member.

Council Member Brooks' proposed changes have already come under fire, with articles in both the San Francisco Chronicle and the East Bay Express openly challenging their constitutionality. Dan Grace of Darkheart is quoted as saying, "It would break the cannabis industry in Oakland, not just for now, but forever.”

These proposed amendments will be next taken up at the Public Safety Committee on September 27 at 6 pm. The four members of that Committee are Council Members Brooks and Gallo, plus Abel J. Guillén and Dan Kalb. Whatever comes out of the Committee would then go on to full eight members of the City Council.