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Vista to draft cannabis equity policy after assessment report

Vista is working on a cannabis equity policy. KPBS reporter Alexander Nguyen says it comes after the city council reviewed recommendations last night.

On Tuesday, the Vista City Council directed staff to draft a cannabis equity policy for review.

It came after the council reviewed the Commercial Cannabis Equity Assessment report.

Why it matters

Two years ago, the city of Vista commissioned a cannabis equity assessment to see how cannabis-related industries could be managed equitably — especially for communities harmed by the war on drugs.


There are currently 11 dispensaries in Vista, but the city isn’t looking to open more. Rather, the report is preparation for when the city considers other types of cannabis businesses, such as lounges and cultivation farms.

By the numbers

Looking at data provided by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department from 2014 to 2023, the report found that Black people were disproportionately arrested for cannabis-related crimes compared to their white counterparts. Black people make up roughly 3% of Vista's population but accounted for nearly 6% of arrests.

"Nearly two times their representation," said Kyle Tankard, the cannabis policy expert at SCI Consulting Group, which conducted the study.

He said going back to 1991, using data from SANDAG, in San Diego County, Black people were more than five times as likely as whites to be arrested for pot-related crimes. Latinos were nearly three times as likely.

Looking ahead

Among the recommendations, Tankard said the city should provide financial support, such as fee waivers and business grants.


It also should provide technical support, such as a curriculum for people to learn about the business and the laws and regulations around it.


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