1055 The Beat Rochester is supporting the advocacy work of Roc NORML, a nonprofit organization that is educating the public about the benefits of responsible cannabis use while working to reform laws around prohibition. Over the next several months there will be a series of events exploring marijuana decriminalization and legalization.
Blog submitted by: Mary Kruger, Executive Director at ROC NORML
Communities & Cannabis is an event series hosted in partnership by OWN Rochester, NY HempLab and Roc NORML. Powered by The Beat 105.5 FM, the series focuses on engaging communities in the Rochester area in conversation about legalizing cannabis for adult-use and its potential impact on our city.
Legalization of cannabis has been far from perfect as we look at other states that have come before us. Today, there are people sitting in prison, in states with “legal markets,” where businesses are generating millions in revenue; an overwhelming majority of the industry is owned by a white male constituency; communities that have been disproportionately targeted and damaged by the War on Drugs do not have the proper resources to enter the industry and are not seeing the tax revenue benefits being generated from the legal market.
When New York legalizes cannabis for adult-use, which will likely happen during the 2020 session, the community should consider the following points:
(1) Justice – This includes automatically expunging records and resentencing for people who were convicted of crimes that become legal as legislation is passed. It also includes removing positive THC tests from being a sole determiner in decisions related to family and social welfare cases, probation and parole, and employment possibilities.
(2) Equity – The cannabis industry is unique. Unlike traditional businesses, since cannabis it is still a Schedule I drug according to the federal government, it is nearly impossible to gain access to traditional loans from banks, and generally only folks with access to venture capital are the ones who have a chance at beginning a legal cannabis business. Ensuring funding is available and allocated to build equity, through state funded and private endeavors, are available to build diversity and equity within the industry is a necessity, which includes: access to low or no cost business loans, priority licensing, and support for small and worker owned businesses and incubators to help grow required business skills.
(3) Reinvestment – A set percent of tax revenue from the legal industry must be allocated to a Community Reinvestment Grant Fund, through job training, economic empowerment, youth development programming, and re-entry services.
The voices of folks who are directly impacted in Rochester by this issue are the most important voices that need to be heard. We hope you’ll join us with your family and friends at one (or more!) of the events in this first series.
To register for the free events and to learn more information go to search “Communities and Cannabis” on Eventbrite.
Communities and Cannabis Dates:
Thursday, September 26th
Tuesday, October 15th
Wednesday, November 13th
Thursday, December 19th