The equity advocates have submitted a pair of alternative amendments of the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which cleared the House last year and was recently refiled by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). The proposals come from the Parabola Center, a newly established organization that is working to inform legalization legislation federally and at the state-level with the intent of promoting social justice-centered reforms.
As several states see record-setting cannabis sales despite a global economic downturn, advocates and business owners are concerned that the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is delaying the creation of an equitable cannabis industry.
While smaller equity applicants from marginalized communities are denied access to the market, police departments and major corporations are cashing in on ancillary cannabis contracts worth multiple millions of dollars.
Last week NJ Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill that would quantifiably improve NJ’s ghastly, costly medical cannabis program. This legislation does some good things.
But here’s the real tea: 1) none of those positive changes are in effect yet 2) there are still only 6 dispensaries in NJ and 3) medical cannabis is still upwards of $500/oz in New Jersey, a price point that’s wildly out-of-line with most other states.
Murphy and the gang.
Illinois is about to make history as the first state to legalize recreational cannabis and allow commercial sales through the state legislature instead of via a voter initiative, pending the governor’s signature. But this historic piece of legislation almost died along the way over the increasingly contentious issue of homegrow.
Recently, Title posted a Twitter thread laying out her “top 10 must-haves for any state cannabis legalization bill.” It’s a best-practices list aimed at ensuring equity and accountability. She’s been sharing versions of the list with officials in neighboring states, most recently Connecticut. “I rewrite these every time I give a speech in another state,” she said, “because every day I learn more and they evolve.”
Recreational marijuana legalization is stalled in both New York and New Jersey—partly because some lawmakers of color say the proposals don’t go far enough in making certain that the communities hit hardest by arrests from illegal drugs aren’t locked out of the newly regulated weed industry.
Across the border in Massachusetts, experts and regulators say that New Yorkers are right to be worried.
With Massachusetts' adult-use cannabis regulations freshly in effect, and legal sales expected to start in a matter of weeks, the state must now grapple with how to ensure that legal pot benefits its population as a whole, and not just already well-to-do residents. Social equity programs are on the rise throughout states with legal marijuana, aiming to help individuals and entrepreneurs from disadvantaged backgrounds and communities of color — widely victimized by the War on Drugs — find opportunities for professional success in the cannabis industry.
A medical marijuana dispensary in Leiscester, Massachusetts, has become the first licensed recreational cannabis retailer east of the Mississippi.