According to a new study,unlicensed marijuana dispensaries in California are opening in black and Latino neighborhoods at a disproportionately high rate, following a similar pattern taken by alcohol and tobacco retailers.
Researchers say this trend could worsen existing health disparities for minority and poor communities because highly potent products sold in unlicensed dispensaries are less likely to be tested for safety, have no safe packaging for children, and are often cheaper than highly regulated products found in licensed dispensaries.
The study also found that California neighborhoods with licensed dispensaries tend to be wealthier and less diverse, suggesting that regulators are neglecting industry monitoring in poorer communities.
"The marijuana industry likes to paint legalization as a social justice issue, but in reality minority communities are being disproportionately harmed by legalization. Young blacks and Hispanics are still arrested at much higher rates for marijuana-related crimes in states where marijuana is legal," said Dr. Sharif Mohr of the Drug Free America Foundation.
"In addition, it is minority communities that will suffer a much greater burden from cannabis use disorder and addiction as unlicensed dispensaries proliferate in these communities."
Read the full study:
(Source: Brook Staggs, Orange County Register, August 27, 2020)