A coalition of more than a hundred cannabis companies and industry groups has sent a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to include social equity in any legislation that is proposed as a way of ending marijuana prohibition.
The letter, sent on Thursday last week, asserts that the work of Congress will be incomplete if they only stopped at legalizing marijuana without going further to address issues of social equity.
More specifically, the groups and associations that signed this letter express concern that the people who were worst affected by the War on Drugs are likely to be left behind as the marijuana industry takes off because those individuals who have a past conviction for marijuana-related charges are explicitly barred from participating in the legal marijuana industry in the states where marijuana is legal. These individuals are also unable to raise the capital needed to participate meaningfully in what the signees called “the new green rush.”
The letter states that in 2018, the sale of recreational and medical marijuana in the states that approved marijuana generated $10.4 billion, and $1.2 billion went to state governments in the form of taxes. Additionally, more than 200,000 people have jobs in the legal cannabis industry, but a significant proportion of people from the communities which were disproportionately affected by the prohibitionist laws are staying behind due to the constraints they face.
The coalition proposes a number of suggestions that Congress can consider in order to right the wrongs done during the War on Drugs.
For example, the letter suggests that in addition to descheduling marijuana at the federal level, Congress should pass a law allowing banks to service cannabis businesses without any fear of federal action against them.
The coalition also recommends that Congress should appropriate funds towards a social equity program so that the individuals and communities who suffered the most during prohibition can be facilitated or supported to take part in the legal cannabis industry across the country.
Another recommendation is that the criminal records of people on charges related to marijuana should be expunged so that those people no longer suffer the collateral consequences of those convictions.
4Front Ventures led the effort to write this letter. Other signees included Marijuana Policy Project, Michigan Cannabis Industry Association, MJ Freeway, Minority Cannabis Business Association, Americans for Safe Access, National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), and Berkeley Patients Group, among others.
This letter comes soon after another coalition of drug reform and civil rights groups also wrote to Congress making suggestions regarding how marijuana justice could be realized in any law that is passed to end cannabis prohibition.
Pundits believe that the marijuana industry, including companies like Therma Bright Inc. (TSX.V: THRM) (OTC: THRBF) and The Supreme Cannabis Company Inc. (TSX.V: FIRE) (OTCQX: SPRWF), will be hoping that Congress uses the recommendations made by the different groups that have written to it when debating a comprehensive marijuana policy reform law.
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