This week, the Minority Cannabis Business Association unveiled their Municipal Ordinance model on how localities can administer new business licenses in a fashion that promote minority entrepreneurs and ensure that the emerging industry will not be dominated by a flood on new investors who have not been harmed by the consequences of prohibition.
As states continue dialing back their war on marijuana consumers, it is important that those who were most negatively impacted by our oppressive prohibition are able to see previous harms remedied as best as possible and be given the opportunity to participate in the benefits that come along with legalization and regulation. With states beginning to define this new industry, the newly created licensing bodies should prioritize ease of access to the market for consumers and those who were previously targeted by anti-marijuana laws, in addition to supporting small businesses and diversity over corporate greed.
“The Model Ordinance is a statement from the communities we represent to the local lawmakers, regulators, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders who are building our nation’s cannabis industry one town at time–social equity is not only possible, it should be the industry standard moving forward. Our work gives those actors the tools they need to make equity a present reality in our industry rather than a lost opportunity,” said Khurshid Khoja, Co-chair of the MCBA Policy Committee.
Communities of color have disproportionately suffered for decades because of our racist enforcement of marijuana laws and that must be addressed in the age of legalization through policies such as these equity programs and expungement of previous charges. Historically, African-Americans are arrested for violating marijuana possession laws at nearly four times the rates of whites, yet both ethnicities consume marijuana at roughly the same rates.
Specifically, the American Civil Liberties Union report The War on Marijuana In Black and White (2013) concluded: “[O]n average, a Black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though Blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates. Such racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests exist in all regions of the country, in counties large and small, urban and rural, wealthy and poor, and with large and small Black populations. Indeed, in over 96% of counties with more than 30,000 people in which at least 2% of the residents are Black, Blacks are arrested at higher rates than whites for marijuana possession.”
“With this ordinance urban centers across the country will be able to access the economic opportunities created by equity programs and we look forward to supporting that work across the country,” Jason Ortiz, Co-chair of the MCBA Policy Committee and Vice President of MCBA said of their new model ordinance.
You can find the MCBA Model Ordinance to share with your local lawmakers HERE.
You can find the NORML Factsheet on the racial disparity of cannabis criminalization HERE.