PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After Portland city leaders and cannabis business owners and advocates came together to discuss inequity in the cannabis industry, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty is calling for restorative justice.

Recreational use of marijuana has been legal in Oregon for 8 years. Despite this, city leaders and restorative justice advocates say things are not equitable especially in communities of color.

Jesce Horton owns Lowd Cannabis and works towards fairness in the growing industry. He says programs and people along the way helped him get into growing.

But for many black cannabis users from before state legalization, things are far from fair.

“I’ve been kicked out of school. I’ve been kinda left to the side. I’ve been arrested,” said Horton. “Without a doubt the most glaring thing is the fact that we are one of the only states with no social equity policy at a state level.”

According to an ACLU report in 2020, black people were over three and a half times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession. That’s the same racial disparity from a decade before.

Marijuana possession felonies are hurting those arrested by a law changed eight years ago. This is why cannabis oversight city officials are recommending creating an expungement program for nonviolent marijuana-related criminal offenses.

In their annual cannabis report, Portland city officials said they wanted $2.7 million to help remedy that situation. The money would come exclusively from cannabis taxes.

Hardesty says the effort needs to expand past city limits.

“This should not solely be the work of the city of Portland, we need the state of Oregon to step up and expunge previous, nonviolent cannabis-related convictions from all people’s records.”