/African Americans missing out on Southern push for legal pot

African Americans missing out on Southern push for legal pot

The Navy veteran who is black was disappointed to learn that there were few African-Americans in the campaign. The highest percentage of black people in Mississippi is 38%. However, the campaign was led by four white men. The steering committee was comprised of 70 members, with less than a third being people of color. The South’s push for medical marijuana has been largely led by white male conservative lawmakers. White male conservative lawmakers from Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, and South Carolina are following the Florida and Arkansas example and leading legalization efforts in these states. Jones Bonner, a black legalization advocate, fears that the absence of minorities could have serious consequences. Jones Bonner stated, “We must work together.” “I would love to see the [ballot] initiative browned.” The conditions under which medical cannabis can be prescribed are usually laid out in medical cannabis laws. The laws in Arkansas, Florida and Georgia — the only Southern states to legalize medical cannabis — do not cover sickle cell disease. This is a condition that causes severe pain anddisproportionately affects African-Americans. This condition is also excluded by the bills in Tennessee and Kentucky. Three states, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Connecticut have legalized medicinal but not recreational cannabis. They allow patients with sickle cell disease to use it. State lawmakers and advocates in other parts of the United States are focusing on racial equality and discrimination in criminal justice systems. Legislators in blue states like Massachusetts and California see legalization as an opportunity for reinvestment in minorities that have been disproportionately affected by decades of the policies known as “the war on drugs.” The South is not the same. Republican-dominated statehouses have failed to support efforts to reduce penalties for cannabis possession. Black advocates for legalization fear that white politicians will not regulate licensing and permit in a manner that guarantees equal opportunities for people of colour, even if medical marijuana becomes legal. “Without this, it’ll just be more of the exact same,” Dr. Felecia Dawson, a board certified physician, said. She closed her Georgia-based OB/GYN practice in order to advocate for medical cannabis. “Legislators won’t keep people of colour… from the benefits cannabis.” Research suggests that medical marijuana is more popular among whites with higher incomes than those who are low-income. This may be due to the long history of drug enforcement disparities. This discrimination continues: A recent New York Times investigation revealed that blacks were arrested for low-level marijuana offenses at eight times the rate as non-Hispanic whites. Minorities make up only a small percentage of the entrepreneurs or leaders in legal cannabis businesses, despite their influence on cannabis use. Jones Bonner stated that cannabis is medicine and should be accessible to everyone. “Because states will reap economic benefits, the benefit should be shared with all citizens of a state. Qualifying Conditions Marijuana possession was illegal in the South, often with severe consequences. The 2013 Cole Memorandum from the U.S. Department of Justice advised prosecutors not to enforce federal anti-marijuana law in states where it was legal. The drug could help patients with difficult conditions, so Southern advocates began lobbying their elected officials to get products like cannabidiol oil low in tetrahydrocannabinol and not make them high. For parents with severely epileptic children and soldiers who need relief from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, the drug provided hope. Conservative lawmakers who were once against cannabis use on moral grounds have begun to reconsider their views. Former Georgia state representative Allen Peake, a Macon Republican, said that everyone has a relative or grandparent who has benefited from medical marijuana. He was the one who led the fight for legalization of CBD oil. This is a non-high extract. People now realize it’s not as big an earthquake as they expected. “The sky didn’t fall.” By 2016, every Southern state had legalized CBD oil treatment for a small number of conditions. The willingness of lawmakers to expand the eligible conditions was increasing as public support grew. Some conditions that are more common in minority populations than in whites — like sickle cell disease which affects 73 out of 1,000 African-Americans at the time of their birth, compared to 3 whites according to federal estimates — have been left out of several Southern statehouses’ current proposals. After a 2017 ballot initiative legalizing medical marijuana, advocates wore T-shirts titled “Diversity For All” to highlight the importance of the drug to minorities at a hearing. Casey Caldwell, a black advocate for cannabis, stated that “we know that such diseases like hypertension, sickle cells, neuropathy, and so forth are more prevalent in blacks.” She said, “It’s safe to say that African American communities would benefit most.” “In the past pharmaceutical drugs have been priced such that [we] must make a decision whether or they should eat or purchase medication.” Dee Dawkins, a former Democratic Georgia representative, expressed similar concerns in 2015 about the absence of blacks among 17 state appointees for the Commission on Medical Cannabis. The Black Caucus fought for sickle cell disease to be added to the list of conditions that can be treated with CBD oil. “Had the caucus failed to fight for sickle cell,” Dawkins–Haigler said to reporters. “It would not have been added.” Peake, who was white, dismissed the notion that race played a role in determining which conditions were covered. He said that cancer doesn’t discriminate between people of different races. “I don’t have any concern about that at all.” What is a ‘Racial Lens? Southerners from all walks of life have been charged with possessing marijuana to relieve pain. Jaime Montalvo, a Louisville resident with multiple sclerosis said that cannabis was so effective in relieving his pain that he could bike with his son and not need to take opioids. He began growing cannabis for personal use. One day, a bank robbery took place in his neighborhood in 2011. This led to authorities being called to his home. His cannabis was sneezed upon by a drug-sniffing pet dog. Montalvo was arrested after he lost custody of his son. He then founded Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana and has lobbied for legislative reforms. Montalvo, who is Hispanic, stated that the racial aspect of it — discussing getting people [convicted of drug-related crime] out of prison — has not been brought up at this point. “It might hurt the medical legislation,” Montalvo said. Kentucky is just one of six Southern states that have laws to allow small amounts of cannabis to be decriminalized. Montalvo does not believe Republican legislators are interested in moving a Kentucky bill to make possessing up to one ounce of cannabis a punishable offense. Similar bills in Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee have not been heard. “There’s a reticence in moving on this issue from a lot of Southern States,” stated Georgia state senator Harold Jones, an Augusta Democrat who is also a member the Black Caucus. It could be a racial lens. It is possible. He adds that the demonization of cannabis use and its response with criminal punishment is difficult to reverse. “That hasn’t been a Republican issue — it goes back to Democrats, a drug war going for 40 years,” he says. A Diverse Industry Minority cannabis advocates hope states will adopt licensing and permit programs that promote equity in their state’s emerging industries. A Marijuana Business Daily poll that included nearly 600 professionals in the cannabis industry found that 81% were white in 2017. California cities like Oakland have established what is known as cannabis equity programs. These programs provide mentorships, loan assistance, and business development for low- and minority-income entrepreneurs to diversify the industry. Oakland is one of these cities that has a limit on the number of permits available for people of color. These policies are not yet available in the South. Mildred Barnes Griggs, a minority license applicant in Arkansas, filed a complaint about the lack of diversity among state’s medical cannabis growers. Black farmers in Florida protested being barred from the multibillion-dollar state’s cannabis trade. This was due to policies that required license holders must have been operating for at least 30 years. Roz McCarthy, the founder of Minorities for Medical Marijuana in Florida, said that the law did not have the teeth necessary to ensure that medical marijuana license holders followed the requirements for diversity in hiring. According to the Florida Department of Health spokesperson, the state law does not require medical marijuana treatment centres to report on the owner’s race or ethnicity. McCarthy stated that the group is trying to get lawmakers to realize that they have the power and ability to prevent exclusionary practices from happening. There are barriers. There is always the chance to lower barriers.” Kiah Tolliver, a black U.S. Navy veteran, returned home from Afghanistan in 2012 and 2013. She was suffering from PTSD-related anxiety. Only cannabis was able to help, and Charlotte resident, North Carolina, used it despite Department of Veterans Affairs drug testing policy that put her medical benefits in jeopardy. Tolliver and her husband made that decision, and they started a cannabis tracking software company. They also established a local chapter for Minorities for Medical Marijuana. Tolliver stated that legalizing medical marijuana and criminalizing non-medical marijuana is the most severe form of injustice. She said that everyone knows someone who has been affected by the war against drugs, and she was referring to communities of colour. “I think, many times, [that] why that’s on the agenda.” Tolliver and Sean have been slowly pushing their way to the forefront of North Carolina’s fight for medical cannabis. They’ve recruited other minorities supporters to a “cannabis Caucus” that was recently established by Kelly Alexander, a Charlotte Democrat, who hopes to file a legalization legislation this session. Tolliver stated, “I hope we won’t have that same exclusion.” “It’s easy for people to forget those who aren’t at your table. So we’re pushing hard for a place.”_x000D