Rickey McCullough is looking both for investors and a place to open his cannabis dispensary in Oakland, Calif. A decade ago, he had been arrested for growing marijuana. Credit: Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Mr. McCullough, the Oakland resident who received a marijuana license in January, has no ambivalence.
He was one of four so-called equity candidates chosen by lottery from a pool of dozens of residents who applied for a license to sell cannabis.

“If you look at the numbers, we were definitely more targeted than any other race,” said Mr. McCullough, who is black. “The city is helping us to fight back.”

His arrest a decade ago made him eligible to obtain a license. On the afternoon of August 2008, a burglar smashed through the window of Mr. McCullough’s home, prompting neighbors to call the police. The officers who responded did not find the intruder but seized 10 ounces of marijuana that he had grown. Mr. McCullough went from being the victim of a burglary to the object of an investigation that led to his conviction.

In recent weeks, Mr. McCullough has received numerous offers from would-be investors and is still scouting for locations for his dispensary.

“It’s a good feeling because there’s been some kind of social justice here,” Mr. McCullough said. “I’d like to see this program implemented nationwide.”

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