Despite employing thousands of growers, shop owners, bud tenders, and more, the Cannabis Industry has never held the same economic security as other businesses; marijuana’s federally illegal distinction banishes the industry from much-needed federal banking access.
Public outcry, plentiful bulk transactions, and millions of dollars later, the Cannabis Industry surprised everyone by making its 2020 debut as an essential business. The new status, which allowed shops to remain open, did not change the fact that marijuana is still listed as illegal, with the DEA referring to the herb as a schedule I drug.
The DEA, the enforcement of which is widely known to roots in racism, categorizes cannabis as a Schedule I Drug, placing it on the same level as heroin, LSD, and 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy). For close to a century, Blacks and Brown People in America have had no choice but to withstand the prejudice of being jailed and imprisoned disproportionately for possession of marijuana. Findings reveal that, sadly, these issues persist to this day. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU):
“Marijuana use is roughly equal among Blacks and whites. In 2010, 14%
of Blacks and 12% of whites reported using marijuana in the past year; in 2001, the figure was 10% of whites and 9% of Blacks. In every year from 2001 to 2010, more whites than Blacks between the ages of 18 and 25 reported using marijuana in the previous year. In 2010, 34% of whites and 27% of Blacks reported having last used marijuana more than one year ago — a constant trend over the past decade. In the same year, 59% of Blacks and 54% of whites reported having never used marijuana.”
In some parts of the US, buying and using marijuana is legal. In others, people are still being arrested and prosecuted for offenses which equate to nothing more than “recreational use”. A mere marijuana possession charge can inhibit one from receiving a loan, buying a house, or attending college. As minorities are the target for marijuana infringements, few black entrepreneurs have been able to find footing in the industry. As Deborah M. Ahrens put it,
“in states where marijuana has been legalized, our policy-making apparatus should acknowledge and move to redress both the failings of our prior system of drug regulation and the social and economic disparities in current law by embracing a concert of ‘retroactive legality’,” which was defined by Ahren as, “a framework in which we seek to restore those convicted of marijuana crimes to the rights and civic status they would have had if their conduct had never been illegal.”
Bernie Sanders, former Democratic nominee hopeful, also spoke against the federally illegal status of marijuana on Wednesday. From the floor of the Senate, Sanders, a celebrated civil rights activist, declared what many studies have already shown: the drug policy in America should change, parallel to the reformation of the police. Sanders posited that eliminating the ill repute of cannabis in the eyes of the law could relinquish more officers to police truly significant matters.
The House has created the S.A.F.E Banking Act, a bill which now includes banking provisions for marijuana businesses, has garnered the support of both the American Bankers Association and at least 38 Attorneys General. The senate will reveal its vote in July.
*Today, June 19, we celebrate the emancipation of the last slaves in the United States. In honor of Juneteenth, and the continuing evolution of the country’s standards of what is right, what is wrong, and what is just – try out marijuana strain Liberation OG (Kalonji Kush x Arise), by Irie Genetics.