What’s in (and not in) A-21/S-21?
“[The bill] has been introduced as the most progressive cannabis legislation in the country yet it falls short of substantive social equity provisions seen in other states,” said Jessica Gonzalez, General Counsel for Minorities for Medical Marijuana (M4MM), in an email to Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary.
- “The bill is riddled with vague language and predatory programs aimed at minority communities while increasing the barriers to entry,” said Gonzalez. Specifically, she identified five points where it falls short:
- Lack of allocation of cannabis tax revenue to communities harmed by prohibition. For contrast, consider Illinois, where the Restore, Reinvest, and Renew program (R3) uses 25% of state cannabis tax revenue to provide community grants.
- No social equity designation for licensing. States like Michigan and Massachusetts offer reduced fees and/or state-sponsored assistance for social equity applicants and licensees.
- Weak delivery models and a lack of home grow. Allowing residents to grow themselves is important to ensure universal access to cannabis.
- Limited definitions of “impact zones.” These are defined as cities or towns with 120,000 or more residents who rank in the top 40% of cities with the most arrests for possession. Dispensaries will open in these areas first, and some lawmakers have suggested allocating tax revenue from cannabis to impact zone grants.
- Specifically earmarking tax revenue for law enforcement training. The bill includes language that would use cannabis tax money to train designated police officers as “Drug Recognition Experts,” who will serve to “detect, identify, and apprehend drug-impaired motor vehicle operators.”