“We can do (legalization) here, and in a smart way that ensures fairness and equity for minority-owned businesses and minority communities,” ~ NJ Governor Phil Murphy
“Let’s stop the disproportionate impact on communities of color, let’s create an industry that empowers the poor communities that paid the price and not the rich corporations that come in to make a profit.” ~ NY Governor Andrew Cuomo
What if we could advance equity and economic justice on both ends of cannabis’ natural supply chain by allowing previously targeted communities to do legally what they have historically been persecuted for doing in the illicit industry? The time is NOW for allowing licensed transfers of cannabis under agreement between legal states.
Racial equity in import states: Under the disastrous US Drug War, young people of color in states like New York and New Jersey (and all over the country) have been disproportionately arrested for cannabis, and in huge numbers - primarily for retail and distribution (and possession) – on the East Coast. The Governors of New York and New Jersey have rightly observed that the newly legal industries in their states should serve the economic opportunity of these communities. But how?
Oregon’s cannabis farmers, invited by the State into the regulated market, are now restricted from selling their product to their historical buyers across the country. As a result, “as of Jan 1, 2019, the recreational market has 6.5 years’ worth of theoretical supply.” The result? Wholesale prices have fallen over 75%, and Oregon farmers face economic ruin, some of them after generations of cultivation.
Connecting traditional cannabis producers with minority-owned, equity-committed retail and distribution businesses in states like New York and New Jersey would allow them to feature a full selection of the world’s finest cannabis products on DAY ONE of legalization. These businesses would have a head start of months or even years vs. non-equity based corporations, or obviate the need to license non-equity focused retail entirely, altering the economic trajectory of the entire industry in those states.
We need NY Governor Cuomo and NJ Governor Murphy to propose special, equity-focused retail licenses that would allow import under state law. We then need them to call upon the federal government to allow their states to engage in licensed, secure transfers under agreement with legal producer states.
The Craft Cannabis Alliance has a plan. The ONE Fix Cannabis campaign is championing a bill in the Oregon Legislature to facilitate the export of cannabis to other states. We are now beginning to work with partners in other states to pass similar bills to allow licensed interstate transfer. Once Oregon and one other state have these laws in place, we will call on the Federal government to allow or tolerate such transfers, either in statute or via Department of Justice memo or directive.
Communities of color and other targets of the drug war should also have expanded opportunities to become licensed growers. Meanwhile, allowing licensed interstate transfers with a racial equity requirement would ensure immediate opportunities for broad participation in the emerging legal industry.