Open Letter to Legislative Decision Makers on Cannabis Regulation

To:

Richard, Jeanette, jkitchel, Maxine, Sarah, janetancel, Kitty, Mitzi, jkrowinski, Tim, Becca, Vermont-press-contacts, vermont-racial-justice-alliance-poc-steering-committee

Open Letter to Legislative Decision Makers

Please make every effort to ensure that S.54, the cannabis regulation bill provides strong equity and inclusion provisions.  The current bill fails to provide a sufficiently robust framework and fails to allocate any revenue to effectively address equity and inclusion.  Given the severe disproportionate adverse impact that low-level, non-violent so-called drug enforcement has had (and continues to have) on communities color, S.54 falls woefully short of any serious social equity effort required to repair harm and offer fairness in moving forward.  Most notable is the absence of automatic expungement.  Two additional challenges that would have a propensity to cause additional harm to communities of color are:

1.        The “compromise” made on saliva testing. This technology has not reached efficacy maturity sufficient to be used in any capacity where civil liberties hang in the balance.   

2.       The seatbelt provision.  This provision offers an unnecessary pretext for law enforcement stops where no sufficient reasonable cause would otherwise exist.

A serious oversight in the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Marijuana was the absence of a Social Equity Subcommittee.  Additionally, the Roadway Safety, Education and Taxation and Regulation Committees all failed to offer any guidance surrounding the racial equity implications of cannabis regulation.  As a result, both iterations of the Senate and House fail to sufficiently address racial equity head-on in cannabis regulation.  

We implore you to place social equity and inclusion as a priority, engage those who have been historically adversely impacted and use a data driven approach in the creation of this historic cannabis regulation policy.  Please consider the Illinois Cannabis Regulation policy, released in January 2020.  Thousands of lives have been changed since its implementation.

We strongly urge you consider our proposal to address social equity in S.54which recommends a Cannabis Development Fund and a Community Social Equity Program as components of S.54, the Cannabis Regulation Act.  Some of the specific proposed language is here. We continue to work towards the completion of an automatic expungement proposal.  

Thank you!

Vermont Racial Justice Alliance

#VTPoli

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