Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer discussed social equity issues during a meeting with a number of cannabis advocacy and reform groups. Schumer is preparing to introduce the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act later this year.
In an interview, activists who were part of the Zoom meeting stated that the Senate Majority Leader wasn’t clear on when he would be filing his marijuana legalization measure, only noting that he would do it soon. The implementation of the adult-use cannabis program in New York, immigration issues associated with marijuana and cannabis banking were also discussed during the meeting.
Representatives of VOCAL-NY, Women Grow, Immigrant Defense Project, Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition, the Drug Policy Alliance and the Rochester NORML chapter took part in the discussion.
Schumer also revealed during the meeting that he’d received criticism from advocates about how long it had taken to file his legalization measure. He noted that both he and his colleagues at the Senate felt that it was important to make sure that equity was effectively integrated into the measure before the committee processes begun.
Last year, the Senate Majority Leader observed that he wanted to keep major players in the tobacco and alcohol industries out of the cannabis industry, in favor of creating opportunities for smaller businesses when the plant was federally legalized. His soon-to-be filed legislation is designed to ensure that these big companies don’t overtake the industry.
The director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance stated in an interview that Schumer made it clear in the meeting that he understood that social equity needed to be a crucial and intentional part of any cannabis measure that was advanced in Congress. She also pointed out that her organization looked forward to working with Schumer’s office on a comprehensive cannabis initiative that would offer restitution to communities and individuals who were severely impacted by cannabis prohibition.
Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition vice chair Shaleen Title stated that the Senator had consistently stood with minority-owned businesses as well as small businesses, adding that they were glad to share lessons for how Congress could help ensure that communities which had been affected by the war on drugs could thrive.
During the meeting, Schumer also recognized that until federal prohibition on marijuana was lifted, the system wouldn’t be thoroughly equitable in states such as New York where regulators were working to implement an adult-use cannabis market.
When federal cannabis legalization finally happens, the marijuana industry, including companies such as Flora Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: FLGC), will breathe a collective sigh of relief since some of the hurdles they face will have been removed.
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