City Council Disinterested As LA Social Equity Advocates Wait Hours To Make Public Comment.

LA Social equity advocates stared at open council seats and seemingly disinterested faces during the public comment portion of City of Los Angeles’ Friday council session

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EMPTY SEATS, a disengaged council after advocates waited three hours to be heard. All Photography by Davide Laffe (@davidelaffe). Shared with permission from The Social Impact Center

After waiting hours to be heard, LA social equity advocates spoke abrupt, yet powerfully to a nearly empty council in the 60-seconds allowed to them. Notably, of the remaining council members present, many were visibly “distracted, reading, or speaking with the person next to them as citizens spoke at the podium” commented a citizen present.

Kristen Lovell, of The Social Impact Center, further expressed, “The lack of physical presence by LACC when it was finally time to submit public comment was unsettling, but not unexpected. It was disheartening to wait for three hours to be heard, knowing that the issue was already decided before we had a chance to speak. That’s just the way these things go, unfortunately”.

Advocates showed up to the public hearing over concerns for Council’s Rules Committee advancing recommendations from the Department of Cannabis Regulation (DCR), which includes a prospective timeline for Phase 3 licensing. However, LA social equity advocates say this recommendation comes before the long-promised social equity fund has been fully established.

Perhaps the vibrant disinterest during public comment was due to an earlier “YES” vote by all present councilmember’s to advance said recommendations hours before hearing comments.

Yet advocates for LA social-equity waited to be heard anyway. Because that’s what you do when you have a select group of people “profiting off cannabis without an intentional plan to repair and make whole individuals, families, and communities devastated by the War on Drugs” shared an Equity First Alliance public announcement today.   

In Los Angeles, which is now the largest adult-use (recreational) cannabis market in the world, all eyes are observing to see how we use regulatory and licensing practices to repair the harm of the War on Drugs, and many say we are failing miserably. Further investigation shows that the city is also moving forward with a $3.5 billion jail construction plan while “hundreds of thousands of cannabis-related convictions have yet to be expunged, and the County Board of Supervisors has yet to pass a cannabis policy framework,” reads the Equity First Alliance webpage.

“We’re only asking you to do the basics, which is to stop this train wreck and fund social equity now!” exclaimed Felicia Carbajal of the Equity First Alliance and the Los Angeles-based non-profit The Social Impact Center on Friday.

Gabe Guzmann (Latinos for Cannabis), Kristen Lovell (The Social Impact Center), Felicia Carbajal (Smart Pharm Research Group, The Social Impact Center), and Fanny Guzmann (Latinos for Cannabis) observing the chamber meeting.
All Photography by Davide Laffe (@davidelaffe)
Shared with permission from The Social Impact Center
Ignite Daniel speaking before chamber during public comment.
Oscar Aguayo, Jorge Nunio, and Arturo Flores observing the chamber meeting prior to public comment.
Shannon DeGrooms

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