Convicted of a Drug Offense? You Might Not Be Able to Grow Hemp

"Got a felony drug conviction on your record? Don’t look at cultivating hemp as a career opportunity.

The Senate farm bill would make it easier for farmers across the country to grow hemp — but it also bars from participation anyone with a state or federal felony drug conviction.

The felony provision was included in an amendment submitted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a major champion of expanding industrial hemp. [Read more...]"

Marijuana Entrepreneurs Given 'Priority' In Mass. Are Struggling To Get Through Licensing Process

"So you've got priority in getting your marijuana license application reviewed in Massachusetts. But you've got a major hurdle ahead of you — getting through the actual application.

Applicants who get priority are from communities disproportionately criminalized for marijuana — like people of color. Marijuana use is similar among different groups, but minorities have been punished for it at far higher rates.

The state set up the priority status to help them get a piece of the new legal cannabis market, a potential billion-dollar industry. The status fast-tracks the license review process.

But many of the people eligible for the priority status are struggling with the regulatory process. [Read more...]"

Trying to Increase Social Equity in the Cannabis Industry

"Nearly 200 people gathered in the Leimert Park Vision Theater on Tuesday, July 10, for a round-table discussion on social equity in L.A.'s cannabis industry, with speakers including such notables as Cat Packer, executive director of the city's Department of Cannabis Regulation, and Hilary Bricken, a lawyer and legal advocate for Harris Bricken and the Canna Law Group. The idea was to provide an update on the status of L.A.'s licensing rollout for social equity applicants as well as solutions to ensure the city's industry is headed in a direction that supports participants from communities of color and those otherwise targeted by the War on Drugs. [Read more...]"

The Pot Industry Is Overwhelmingly White, and One Congresswoman Wants to Change That

"Across the country, the pot industry nationwide is overwhelmingly white. One often-cited survey found that fewer than one percent of the nation's marijuana dispensaries are owned by black people. Another survey extended that question to all minorities, and found that less than 19 percent of the nation's marijuana businesses have minority investors. With the federal prohibition of marijuana still in place, data remains woefully inadequate on the exact makeup of the nation's marijuana business owners. But if the last survey is accurate, that means a whopping 81 percent of the nation's marijuana businesses are white-owned.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a California Democrat and progressive leader who was first sent to Washington by Oakland voters in 1998, is set on changing that. [Read more...]"

Cage-Free Cannabis Pop-Up Promotes Pot as Tool for Reparation

"In an era of legal weed, it's easy to get carried away in the glitz of the green rush, high-end pot-infused dinners, networking conferences in ritzy hotels and cannabis industry parties that rival even the chicest Hollywood affairs. While all that reflects California's projected $7 billion pot economy, it also offers quite a contrast to the realities of communities and incarcerated individuals still reeling from the War on Drugs. [Read more...]"

A Conversation with Adam Vine of Cage-Free Cannabis: the Mission to Merge the Cannabis Industry with Social Justice

“The cannabis industry, because of its past – its history of criminalization and prohibition – bears a special responsibility to fund that work of repair. To help people come back from lockup. To help people grow and get educations and get on with their lives, and then also to help communities of color to really participate in the industry in a meaningful way. [Read more...]”

In Arbor Hill, Anger Brews as Marijuana Attitudes Shift

"Community members on Wednesday said they would like to see a long-term, consistent revenue stream from marijuana profits come directly into their communities to support apprenticeships and job opportunities. They want marijuana convictions wiped from records, and shattered employment prospects rebuilt.

Marlon Anderson, a community activist and two-time mayoral contender, suggested the city and county send all the money it's seized over the years from the illicit marijuana trade back into the community. [Read more...]"

How Some States Are Planning to Compensate the Communities Most Harmed by the Drug War

"This is an industry that presents a high opportunity to build wealth, probably one of the few brand new industries that will come along in our working lifetimes," says Shanel Lindsay, who is part of a small but growing network of marijuana entrepreneurs of color. "The idea is to take cannabis prohibition and the damage that has been done and turn that into economic opportunity for people to own businesses that will, by their very nature, give back to these communities." [Read more...]

These Women of Color Want to Make the Weed Industry Less White and Male

"Valued at more than $20 billion nationwide, cannabis is the nation’s fastest-growing industry — and one of its most lucrative. Perhaps not surprisingly, its corporate beneficiaries are largely white, wealthy, and male, while those who continue to suffer from its criminalization are largely low-income people of color. Even as legalization in some states has contributed to the industry’s growth, marijuana arrests in nearly half the country shot up between 2014 and 2016, almost entirely among black and Latino people.

In Oakland, a group of cannabis entrepreneurs called Supernova Women is working to address these inequalities. [Read more...]" 

Equity Efforts Could Go Statewide Under California Bill

"Though people of color were hit disproportionately hard by the war on drugs, California’s new legal cannabis industry is overwhelmingly white. And while a handful of cities in the state have already introduced social equity programs designed to give a leg up to those hit hardest historically, a new bill in Sacramento could expand the effort to all corners of the Golden State. [Read more...]"

Man Sentenced to 13 Years for 3 Grams of Marijuana Has Been Freed

"A New Orleans man whose 13-year sentence for possessing a small amount of marijuana drew nationwide attention has been released from prison.

Fifty-one-year-old Bernard Noble’s sentence was cut to eight years in December 2016, following months of negotiations with New Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office. Noble was approved for parole in February. [Read more...]"