April is Diversity month, a month to recognize the rich and unique cultures and backgrounds that make up our society. It is also a time to draw attention to the need to create opportunity and inclusion for all people. This is especially important when it comes to the cannabis industry. The ball is rolling for legalized cannabis in the United States, however the majority of those who are benefitting are not those who have suffered the greatest impacts of cannabis criminalization.
The War on Drugs notoriously and negatively affected minority populations. Last year, the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act was introduced to federally legalize marijuana and implement social justice reform programs to those communities most affected by cannabis prohibition. This year, in 2021, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) have placed cannabis policy change at the federal level as a top priority. Senator Booker announced on Twitter on March 22nd that “Legalizing marijuana is necessary to right the wrongs of our failed drug war and end decades of harm inflicted on communities of color. But that alone is not enough – we must also expunge records and lift up people who were unfairly targeted in the drug war.”
Published research has assessed five areas of social justice related to cannabis prohibition as:
- Expungement of previous arrests and convictions for cannabis crimes that are no longer illegal.
- Consequences of cannabis-related offenses in a cannabis-legal environment.
- Diversity of the cannabis legal industry.
- Funding of equity and/or restorative justice programs for those communities most affected by cannabis prohibition.
- Risks of cannabis legalization negatively impacting the populations that most suffered under the legacy of cannabis prohibition.
During this diversity month, there are minority-owned cannabis businesses you can look to promote and support. As well, there are organizations that are working to improve cannabis industry inclusion and repair the harm that the war on drugs has had on communities. To fulfill a goal of Realm of Caring (RoC) to educate the community, here are some resources available to you to learn more about some of these organizations and current plans for cannabis legislation.
Last Prisoner Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to cannabis justice reform and believe that those who are able to profit from the legal cannabis industry have a responsibility to help release and rebuild the lives of those who have suffered from cannabis criminalization. Watch RoC’s interview with Managing Director, Mary Bailey here.
Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) is a nonprofit with a mission to unite and mobilize the voice of law enforcement in support of drug policy and criminal justice reforms that will make communities safer by focusing law enforcement resources on the greatest threats to public safety, promoting alternatives to arrest and incarceration, addressing the root causes of crime, and working toward healing police-community relations. LEAP is a sponsor of the MORE Act. Watch RoC’s interview with Lt. Nick Bucci about the MORE Act here.
Asian Americans face unique issues relating to cannabis use and acceptance due to differences in history, culture, and social stigmas. Asian Americans for Cannabis Education (AACE) connects and empowers Asian communities to educate the public on cannabis issues, news, and policy affecting Asians worldwide. Learn more here.
Females to the Front is a national and international platform working to support women in the cannabis industry. Their goal is to ensure that the cannabis industry has gender parity and female founders have the tools in their toolbox they need to grow and raise. Learn more here.
Realm of Caring Foundation (RoC), is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that was established by parents in 2013 to support families who were out of medical options. By creating educational resources, conducting research, and assisting families with data-rich answers to their questions, RoC continues to be a leader in the cannabinoid (cannabis/hemp) field. RoC’s no-cost Care Team has served more than 100,000 clients worldwide and supports a network of over 2,000 medical professionals. To learn more about participating or to donate to this cause, visit www.realmofcaring.org or call (719) 347-5400.