Dear Mayor Todd Gloria,
We are writing to express profound disappointment and concern on behalf of the true community stakeholders regarding the handling of the cannabis social equity program. Our collective frustration has reached a point where we are preparing to peacefully protest at your upcoming State of the City (SotC) address.
For over two solid years, we, as dedicated residents of San Diego, have actively participated in the civic process. We have strived to ensure that equity is a priority in an industry that our communities were significantly impacted by, yet we continue to find ourselves sidelined. The present course, seemingly influenced by high-paid lobbyists, lawyers, and existing cannabis retail facilities, such as March and Ash, is not only disheartening but also contrary to the principles of fairness, equity, and justice.
As taxpayers, family people, and integral members of the San Diego community, protesting is not an action we take lightly. Our time is valuable, and our preference would always be to engage constructively. However, the current situation — which has been exacerbated by your actions and those of your Chief of Staff — leaves us little choice.
As this all might be a misunderstanding — which we wholeheartedly hope it is — we require a firm commitment, in writing, to a cannabis social equity program that includes no fewer than 36 new retail licenses for social equity applicants before January 8, 2024 to avert this protest. We ask that you not only acknowledge the cannabis social equity program as laid out herein in your SotC address, but also provide a comprehensive plan to rectify current deficiencies. We expect a clear outline of your support for the recommendations already put forward by the City’s Cannabis Business Division as well as a timeline.
This situation represents yet another instance where POC and LGBTQ+ communities are compelled to fight for equitable treatment — a struggle that would not be necessary in a just and equitable society, let alone under this administration that professes to govern by such principles. We are organized, prepared, and resolute in our pursuit of a satisfactory resolution.
We await your prompt response to this matter, Mayor Gloria. It is our hope that a constructive dialogue and a firm commitment to our equitable solution will replace the need for protest, leading to outcomes that reflect the values and needs of all San Diego’s residents.
San Diego Diversity Cannabis Group
Timeline of Developments in San Diego’s Cannabis Social Equity Program
September 7, 2022: The City of San Diego presented its final draft of the cannabis equity assessment to the EDIR Council Committee. View Report
October 11, 2022: The San Diego City Council adopted the Social Equity Assessment Cannabis Equity Report, marking a significant step in addressing cannabis equity.
February 2023: California State awarded San Diego over $800,000 in grants. The funding was relatively modest, attributed to the City’s lack of an established program at the time.
April 24, 2023: During the budget announcement, Mayor Gloria did not include cannabis social equity in the City’s 2024 budget, raising concerns among stakeholders.
July 2023: In response, the City Council amended the budget, adding $1 million specifically for the social equity program.
July 13, 2023: LUH presented zoning recommendations and code amendments as part of the Current Code Amendment Package. View Details
August 8, 2023: The program underwent a significant transition with the transfer of responsibilities from the CBD to the Office of Race and Equity (ORE).
Missed Opportunity: Unfortunately, San Diego missed the phase 2 GoBiz social equity grant, which could have provided an additional $2 million in funding.
Current Status: Despite clear proposals from the City’s Cannabis Business Division, there appears to be a pivot in the program’s direction. Under Chief of Staff’s guidance, the Mayor’s approach seems to align more with certain political influencers and special interests, and high paid lobbyists deviating from the originally proposed plans.
This timeline outlines the recent key milestones and current challenges in San Diego’s journey towards establishing a fair and effective cannabis social equity program.