Washtenaw County has decided to allocate the marijuana tax revenue to programs related to racial equity and restoration. This action comes as a way to counteract the effects that the War on Drugs had on Black and Brown communities in Washtenaw County.
At the Board of Commissioners meeting on Wednesday, June 2, the action was presented to the board as a type of budget amendment. The tax is expected to bring more than $200,000 in revenue each year, according to county officials.
The city of Ann Arbor announced a similar proposal in May. The plan is for the city to commit $476,000 in marijuana tax revenue from the state towards social equity programs. Additionally, the finances will go towards helping people who were impacted by drug-related laws which disproportionately affect Black people. This includes mandatory sentencing or no-knock warrants.
“We recognize the disparate negative impact the War on Drugs continues to have on Black and Brown communities throughout our county and the country,” Commissioner Justin Hodge, District 5, said during the meeting. “We see it as fitting that these funds should be used to expand the work outlined in the County’s Racial Equity Policy and to further our work addressing the injustices and divestment that communities of color in our county continue to face.”
Additionally, the Board of Commissioners unanimously approved two other racial justice-related resolutions at the meeting.
The first one condemned racially restrictive housing deets. This archaic rule applied to many Ann Arbor-area homes built between 1912 to 1970. These rules worked to stop POC households from buying and owning specific properties. The deed proves just how planned and intentional some of the deeds in Ann Arbor work to police people of color in Ann Arbor. Although many of these deeds exist in Washtenaw County, they will no longer be legally binding.
The second resolution was to honor Juneteenth as a day to celebrate the physical freedom of enslaved people in America. Juneteenth will now annually be observed on June 19, or the closest weekday when June 19 falls on the weekend. Patrons can join the county for the observation of Juneteenth 2021 at 9am on Friday, June 18 at 220 N. Main Street in Ann Arbor.