October 11, 2022, Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC) commends President Biden’s recent announcement of a pardon of all prior Federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana and hopes that the momentum continues.
We appreciate his acknowledgment that marijuana laws have been applied in a discriminatory way and, at the same time, we continue to see great opportunity for African Americans to participate in this industry as it expands.
USBC has been a long-time advocate for fairness in marijuana policy reform. Our 2022 BLACKprint calls for an expansion of business loan opportunities to Black aspiring cannabis business owners and we hope that this program will be funded by tax revenue collected from marijuana sales. We also believe that these opportunities should be coupled with targeted job training efforts as well as state-of-the-art regulatory standards designed to address social equity issues and ensure compliance with existing civil rights laws designed to target discrimination in the marketplace.
“This is promising as we look to decriminalize marijuana federally, however more needs to be done. In particular, USBC would like to see a policy passed that will ensure criminal records do not keep qualified Black entrepreneurs from participating in the emerging legalized cannabis industry.” Says Ron Busy, USBC CEO & President.
Expanding Opportunity for Black-owned Cannabis Businesses:
USBC calls for an expansion of business loan opportunities to Black aspiring cannabis business owners. Understanding the industry is highly regulated and expensive to operate and remain in compliance, a key barrier to Black participation in this market is an access to capital and business counseling.
USBC plans to work closely with policymakers to better understand the needs and gaps of aspiring cannabis business owners and how to ensure that Black businesses have access to benefit from the burgeoning growth of the cannabis industry. To jumpstart this process, we will work with policymakers to reintroduce the MORE Act of 2021 (Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act) or H.R. 3617. The MORE Act would:
- Replace statutory references to marijuana and marihuana with cannabis,
- Require the Bureau of Labor Statistics to regularly publish demographic data on cannabis business owners and employees,
- Establish a trust fund to support various programs and services for individuals and businesses in communities impacted by the war on drugs,
- Impose an excise tax on cannabis products produced in or imported into the United States and an occupational tax on cannabis production facilities and export warehouses,
- Make SBA loans and services available to entities that are cannabis-related legitimate businesses or service providers,
- Prohibit the denial of federal public benefits to a person based on certain cannabisrelated conduct or convictions,
- Prohibit the denial of benefits and protections under immigration laws based on a cannabis-related event (e.g., conduct or a conviction),
- Establish a process to expunge convictions and conduct sentencing review hearings related to federal cannabis offenses, and,
- Direct the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the societal impact of cannabis legalization.