Cannabis Industry Striving for Intersectionality
The War on Drugs is finally experiencing a long-overdue counterattack from the states enacting plans for marijuana legalization.
Recent data supports the assertion that both African Americans and Caucasians consume marijuana equally. Despite this, there is a huge disparity between the number of minorities and white americans being penalized and incarcerated for cannabis use or possession. African Americans, Hispanics, and Caucasians each make up about 30% of the population in Oakland, California, but over 95% of the arrests for marijuana involve people of color*. In 2013, the ACLU released a study revealing that although African Americans made up 14% of the population in 2010, they were the victims of about 34% of arrests for marijuana across the country. The same report found that they were four times more likely to be arrested for pot.
Massachusetts was the first state to use language that specifically addressed minority groups in their ballot initiative, which mentioned the need to include those “disproportionately harmed by marijuana law enforcement.” However, the bill is vague regarding implementation of this sentiment. Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio have also introduced measures that require diversity from its program participants.
The City of Oakland in California is breaking down industry barriers for longtime residents through the city’s marijuana equity permits. During the first phase of the program’s implementation, 50% of the marijuana business permits will be allotted to applicants whose lives have been affected by the War on Drugs, including those arrested for marijuana.
Although many state marijuana programs have been attempting to take steps toward an inclusive industry, probative elements persist, such as exorbitant licensing fees and substantial startup costs. Applicants for marijuana business permits must also undergo an extensive background check. In some states, these applicants have been deterred, waylaid or flat-out dismissed by state licensing authorities due to past charges for marijuana violations.
As laws begin to change, it’s important for legal bootcamps like Rise Up, partly managed by the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA), to occur with regularity. MCBA’s most recent Rise Up “expungement day” was in Seattle last month, and the day-long event assisted citizens in the state of Washington in navigating the process of clearing their records of marijuana charges.
*statistics derived from The Cannabist
Good News Regarding Pesticide Testing for Oregon Growers
May 31, 2017 was a good day, and the beginning of new rules from the Oregon Health Authority for Oregon cannabis growers. Oregon reduced the restrictions on labeling and testing. The former laws were temporary for Oregon, put in place in December 2016.
It has certainly been confusing as officials have tried to wrap their mind around the need for testing for pesticides. Back in October of 2016, Oregon placed strict rules around testing that lasted only a few days, before members of the Oregon Cannabis Business Council immediately expressed serious concerns. The harsh laws would force growers back into the black market, and cost the State of Oregon thousands of lost tax dollars.
Research has now shown that testing on concentrates and extracts don’t necessarily reduce the need for pesticide testing on usable marijuana supplied to dispensaries. So, Oregon will not be requiring the former randomized pesticide testing of concentrates and extracts. This should bring relief to the cannabis industry while maintaining public health protection, according to the Oregon Health Authority.
Oregon Cannabis Startups Have Received Over $80 Million since January
Oregon cannabis growers have been the recipients of the greater part of more than $80 million dollars of investment money just this year! What comes as a surprise is that the investors are mostly pouring money into discovering the best growing practices to produce more weed for less money and not on the research surrounding the health benefits and discovering some big FDA approved wonder cure. Who would’ve guessed that medical marijuana would have taken this turn, not only benefitting the consumer-patients with amazing, natural healing for hundreds of ailments, but also benefiting the State of Oregon with unprecedented and unexpected tax revenues, and creating massive wealth for the private sector.
National Words by Aubrey Merolanne Belisle
Local Words by Sydney Louis