The National Association of Cannabis Businesses (NACB) has released its Social Equity Policy Guidelines outlining recommendations for state lawmakers to address the social inequities caused by the criminalization of cannabis.

The recommendations provide policymakers with an actionable roadmap to increase opportunity, training and investment in individuals who live in adversely affected geographical areas.  

The guidelines, part of a nationwide push to shed light on the structural, financial and emotional harm from decades of arrests, convictions and incarcerations from cannabis-related crimes, aim to establish a framework for policymakers to achieve sustainable improvement in disproportionately impacted areas (DIAs). The guidelines also recommend automatic expungement of a person’s record if arrested or convicted of a cannabis-related crime that did not involve minors, violence or driving under the influence. 

“After decades of the war on drugs that disproportionately and unjustly marginalized communities of color, these guidelines would set states and communities on the right path toward social equity,” said Gina Kranwinkel, president and CEO of NACB. “Across the country, Black Americans on average are arrested at three and a half times the rate of white Americans for cannabis-related offenses — and in some states, the ratio is much, much higher.” 

Among the key elements of NACB’s Social Equity Policy Guidelines is a recommendation that lawmakers redirect 5 percent of state cannabis tax revenue to support those unjustly affected by the criminalization of cannabis who open cannabis-related businesses. The tax revenue will be used to fund training and technical tools and services, including workshops, application support, business plan development, tax planning, legal compliance assistance and access to low-interest loans. Moreover, the guidelines call for reinvestment of 20 percent of cannabis tax revenue to disproportionately impacted areas for education, legal aid, youth development and violence prevention.  

Among the many organizations and individuals whose feedback contributed to the formation of the guidelines are: 

  • David Alport, co-founder and CEO of Bridge City Collective  
  • Ernest Toney, founder of BIPOCANN 
  • Honorable Judge Shelli D. Williams Hayes, (Ret.) co-founder and owner, Bridge City Collective, IL 
  • Office of Marijuana Policy, Denver Excises and Licenses  
  • The Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA)  

 “As an increasing number of states pursue cannabis reform and legalization, we must prioritize and invest in the communities and individuals whose lives have been uprooted by the previous misguided cannabis-enforcement system,” Kranwinkel said. “We hope these guidelines inspire state lawmakers to enact comprehensive social equity policies that rectify the injustices of the poor policies of the past.”

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