The Unfulfilled Promise of Equity in San Francisco


The war on drugs have devastated low income communities, mostly people of color, right here in San Francisco, a city known for being a progressive stronghold.

The City prefers to think of itself as a place of idealism and justice, but the San Francisco Equity Report says otherwise. It shows that the city of San Francisco is no different than any other conservative city in the State of California. The damaged caused by the war on drugs amongst low income communities throughout San Francisco can take generations to heal.

In 2017, the city of San Francisco passed Ordinance 187-17, for the Office of Cannabis to issue business permits with the emphasis on promoting ownership to verified Equity Applicants of the San Francisco Equity Program. In response, the San Francisco Equity Group (SFEG) was established in November, 2017. A coalition of community verified Equity Applicant leaders from Districts 5, 6, 9, 10, and 11, our mission is to ensure that all verified applicants have a voice, necessary resources, and the opportunity to be part of the cannabis industry in San Francisco.

Our experience throughout this long, ongoing process has been filled with hope and frustration, to say the least. On one hand, there’s hope that if we are remain united and stay the course we will succeed. There’s hope that our elected officials will read and implement the findings and recommendations on pages 8-9 in the Executive Summary of the Equity Report.

On the other hand, there’s frustration with the lack of support and resources made available to Equity Applicants from our city government. We need for our elected officials to be leaders and not title holders. They need to be compassionate and committed to right the wrong of the War on Drugs, not make another “false” promise to the people that need help the most.

The San Francisco Office of Cannabis has been helpful in getting qualified applicants verified, answering questions, and providing information to navigate the process. However, it lacks the capacity to truly do the hands-on work and provide the technical support necessary for verified and qualified Equity Applicants going through the licensing process.

SFEG is committed to continuing to support Equity Applicants and we will do everything within our power to amplify their voice and provide legal, financial, administrative, training, and educational resources for long-term success. Together we can create a new day for people of color in San Francisco. We hope you’ll join us.

John Nauer, Jr.