Are cannabis shops targeting California’s Black, Latino and poor communities?

Unlicensed cannabis retailers are disproportionately setting up shop in California communities with higher percentages of Black and Latino residents, according to a new study by health experts from USC.

That means, nearly four years after the state voted to license recreational cannabis businesses, residents of minority neighborhoods still have easier access to marijuana products that are highly potent, less likely to be tested for safety, don’t have child-safe packaging and are often cheaper than the highly regulated products found in licensed marijuana stores. Researchers say such access could worsen existing health disparities for minority and poor communities.

Previous studies have shown that a similar pattern of locating disproportionate numbers of liquor and tobacco retailers in lower-income neighborhoods has harmed the health of people living in those communities.

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