The war on drugs has been declared an unmitigated failure — and for good reason. Prohibitionist policies left America’s jails filled with millions of individuals, many of them charged with relatively minor drug offenses, and minority communities were disproportionately targeted. Most states with legal cannabis markets have tried to correct these wrongs by giving these minority communities a leg up in the cannabis industry. Now, members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors are asking the Biden administration to do the same at the federal level.
During its 89th annual meeting, the organization passed a comprehensive resolution urging President Joseph Biden and Congress to federally legalize cannabis, expunge prior cannabis convictions and allow legal cannabis sales with a focus on social equity. The conference represents mayors from cities across America and it notes that cannabis has the potential to become a “global multi-trillion industry,” stating that America’s cannabis sector has already generated billions of dollars in sales.
However, the emphasis of the resolution was on social equity, and the organization cited statistics showing just how racially disparate the impacts of prohibitionist policies were. Although the state-legal cannabis industry is booming, communities that were targeted by the drug war are underrepresented. Furthermore, the organization says, state-equity initiatives that rely on neutral qualification standards have been unable to significantly promote social equity.
The government is responsible for correcting all the wrongs done to minority communities during the drug war, having passed the prohibitionist policies in the first place, as well as ensuring that these communities benefit from America’s multibillion-dollar state-legal cannabis industry. Consequently, the organization called on Biden and Congress to legalize commercial cannabis sales to adults 21 and older under a framework that focuses on social equity.
With the way things are going, there’s a chance the organization’s wishes will come true. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden and Senator Cory Booker recently unveiled a draft of a cannabis reform bill for public comments that would federally legalize cannabis, among other things. Additionally, a cannabis legalization bill sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrod Nadler recently cleared the House.
Both of these bills would be ideal, representing the first step toward ending the drug war and repairing the harms done to the Black, Indigenous and Latino communities. The legislation would also prevent further harms and collateral consequences that have been historically caused by cannabis policing.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors has raised the issue of cannabis reform before. In 2018, the organization urged the federal government to remove cannabis from the list of controlled substances and asked cities in states with legal cannabis markets to expunge the records of people with past cannabis convictions.
If the federal government finally enacts legislation creating a nationwide marijuana market, leading sector players such as BevCanna Enterprises Inc. (CSE: BEV) (OTCQB: BVNNF) (FSE: 7BC) are likely to see explosive growth since they are already positioned to benefit from such policy reform.
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