Lack of Diversity in Cannabis Industry ‘Wholly Unacceptable’

“As a female and a minority, I have experienced my fair share of barriers when it comes to breaking through glass ceilings. Though diversity is something that is talked about in theory with vigor, it is not always implemented in practice with that same energy.

According to a 2017 Marijuana Business Daily study, minorities are woefully underrepresented in the cannabis industry. More than 80 percent of cannabis businesses are owned by whites, while blacks and Hispanics constitute barely 10% of business ownership combined. Given the rapidly changing demographics of our nation, this is wholly unacceptable. [Read more…]”

Marijuana Legalization Policy Must Lead with Social Justice

“As lawmakers decide how to use marijuana revenue, they must view their choices through the lens of the history of marijuana prohibition in this country and the specific harms it brought to communities of color. Addressing and correcting these injustices must be given precedence as lawmakers formulate today’s marijuana policies. Illinois is leading the way on social justice in this regard and hopefully other lawmakers have the courage to follow. [Read more…]”

Marijuana Legalization Must Make War on Drugs' Victims Whole before Companies Profit

“Before Amazon-owned Whole Foods and Trader Joe's and all manner of opulent, upscale grocers start selling pot brownies to their deep-pocketed patrons — every non-violent marijuana-related conviction should be expunged, and those still incarcerated for marijuana crimes should be immediately released. Before a single Wall Street-loving yacht owner makes another dollar off a demonized plant with long-known medicinal properties, every single person who was thrown into the criminal justice system for enjoying it should get their lives back as much as possible. [Read more…]”

Big Business Will Always Find a Way into the Cannabis Industry

“People of color are disproportionately targeted for marijuana arrests, ending up behind bars and with criminal records that can make it difficult to access housing, education, and work for the rest of their lives. An Oakland analysis found that black people make up 30 percent of the population, but a whopping 80 percent of cannabis arrests from 1995 to 2015. On the federal level, nearly 600,000 were arrested for pot possession in 2017 — the same substance that the well-heeled are now profiting off of in the growing multi-billion-dollar marijuana industry. [Read more…]”

The Arc of Legal Weed Bends Toward Injustice

“As legal marijuana markets emerge in state after state and Democratic lawmakers race to outdo each other with their pro-pot cred, establishing equity benchmarks in the industry becomes paramount. How will people of color gain a foothold in and benefit from the legal-weed economy? Some states that have legalized are working to seal or expunge prior marijuana convictions, a barrier that has kept many would-be entrepreneurs out of the marketplace. [Read more…]”

CANADA -- Pot Pardons Plan a ‘Token Gesture’: Black Lawyers Group

“A member of the association that advocates for black attorneys says the government’s expedited pot pardons bill is nothing more than a “token gesture.”

Gordon Cudjoe, vice-president of the Canadian Association for Black Lawyers, told MPs Monday that offering faster and free pardons for Canadians previously arrested for simple possession of cannabis won’t make it easier for them to find work because potential employers tend to ask if someone has ever pled or been found guilty of a crime, not if they have a criminal record. [Read more…]”

Op-Ed: People of Color Were Targeted by the War on Drugs. They Must Benefit from Marijuana Legalization

“New York State is at an historic crossroads, one which requires us to make a choice. We could take this opportunity to improve the future for individuals and communities devastated by the war on drugs through revenue generated by legal cannabis. Alternatively, we could establish a lucrative new legal cannabis industry worth billions without regard for the millions of New Yorkers harmed by over-policing and discriminatory policies. Finally, we could choose to do nothing and to let the State’s estimated $2 billion underground cannabis market continue to evolve and exist with all of the inherit risks and hazards that come with it. The choice is clear to me. [Read more…]”

The Clean Slate Act's Record-Sealing Provisions Go Further Than Cory Booker's Marijuana Justice Act

“The Clean Slate Act, reintroduced this week by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D–Del.), should help advance the conversation about what the government owes to victims of marijuana prohibition, who face long-lasting burdens even after they have completed their sentences. In that respect, Blunt Rochester's bill goes further than the Marijuana Justice Act, which Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a presidential contender, reintroduced in February.

While Booker's bill requires expungement of records related to "marijuana use or possession offense[s]," Blunt Rochester's applies to "any Federal nonviolent offense involving marijuana." That's an important difference, because almost all simple possession cases are prosecuted at the state level, while federal cases typically involve manufacture or distribution. [Read more…]”

NEW REPORT -- Repairing the Harms, Creating the Future: Centering Cannabis Social & Health Equity in Los Angeles

“The new Repairing the Harms, Creating the Future: Centering Cannabis Social & Health Equity in Los Angeles (2019) report compiles extensive research that shows the City of Los Angeles’ promising programs meant to repair the war on drugs need a more comprehensive approach – and immediate funding – to succeed. A wide range community, worker and industry voices and experts are highlighted who share the effects of the war on drugs but also their engagements with health and social justice through cannabis. The report then outlines how to realize a broader vision of repair and renewal via cannabis in alignment with intersecting work throughout Los Angeles on social and health equity. [Read more…]”

California Bill Seeks to Automatically Seal 8 Million Criminal Records

“A proposal making its way through the California Assembly would automatically seal low-level criminal records -- part of a growing effort by several states to give offenders a better chance at reform.

The bill would affect millions of Californians whose prior rap sheets present significant social obstacles.  AB 1076 would ensure the automatic secrecy of records for certain offenders who  have completed their sentences. If passed, the law would take effect Jan. 1, 2021. [Read more…]”

Legalization Activists Push Marijuana Industry To Uphold Social Responsibilities

“A new memo from pro-legalization advocates offers some insight for marijuana businesses, investors and consumers on how they can better support social responsibility in the increasingly legal industry.

The four-page document unveiled by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) on Friday proposes guidelines to help assess whether a business is operating in a manner that recognizes the historic harms and injustices caused by prohibition. Specifically, the memo asks industry players to take a harder look at their policy positions, internal operations and practices, whether their company supports up-and-coming marijuana businesses and how invested they are in the local communities in which they operate. [Read more…]”