Rhode Island’s Cannabis Equity Quest: Advocates Urge Fairness as Regulations Take Shape

<a rel="nofollow" title="Cannabis" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis">Cannabis</a> <a href="https://leafyleaks.com/tag/equity/" class="st_tag internal_tag " rel="tag" title="Posts tagged with equity">Equity</a> Blossoms in Rhode Island: Striving for Fairness in Emerging <a href="https://leafyleaks.com/tag/regulations/" class="st_tag internal_tag " rel="tag" title="Posts tagged with Regulations">Regulations</a>

Cannabis Equity Blossoms in Rhode Island: Striving for Fairness in Emerging Regulations

Providence, RI: Roberto Pena stands as a testament to the inequities borne by communities of color due
to the War on Drugs. As a firsthand witness, he emphasizes the deep impact of minor offenses like marijuana
possession on lives within neighborhoods like Providence’s South Side. Pena, who once sold marijuana to put
himself through college without facing legal consequences, now looks forward to change. Despite marijuana’s
recent legalization in Rhode Island, he believes true transformation will only come when the newly-formed
Cannabis Control sets up regulations that prioritize the wellbeing of marginalized communities.

Toward Social Equity Measures

Voice united on Wednesday at the Southside Cultural Center of Rhode Island, where Pena joined over a dozen
community members and cannabis workers to voice their perspectives. They were engaging with the Cannabis
Control Commission during its third stop on a summer listening tour, initiated on July 20. Commission Chair
Kimberly Ahern and members Robert Jacquard and Olayiwola Oduyingbo listened attentively, penning down the
collective sentiments of the gathering.

Push for Prioritizing Fairness

Throughout the 75-minute session, various subjects were broached, including the imperative for consistent
labeling at recreational dispensaries and the medicinal attributes of cannabis. However, the spotlight
shone brightest on advocating for social equity measures. Rhode Island’s recreational marijuana law the
Cannabis Control Commission the authority to issue 24 licenses for recreational dispensaries. Of these, six
licenses are reserved for social equity applicants, and another six are set aside for worker-owned
cooperatives.

Defining Social Equity Applicants

Rhode Island’s definition of “social equity” applicants extends to those disproportionately affected by past
marijuana laws. This includes individuals convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses, their immediate family
members, and individuals who have lived in disproportionately impacted areas for at least five years of the last
decade. David-Alan Sumner, a member of the Rhode Island Cannabis Justice Coalition, emphasizes that the
definition could encompass applicants employing individuals from these affected communities. He underscores the
need for careful consideration while awarding social equity licenses, making a clear distinction between
and ownership.

A Call for Community Reinvestment

Joseph Buchanan, President of the Rhode Island Black Political Action Education Committee, stands firm in his
belief that cannabis revenues should circle back to communities of color. Specifically, he advocates for
directing these funds towards affordable housing and educational . His passionate appeal underscores the
prevailing housing affordability crisis in the . Buchanan directs his plea toward Commissioner Olayiwola
Oduyingbo, urging that the demands of the communities are met with genuine action.

From Trust to Transformation

Zara Salmon, the visionary behind the Providence-based plant-lifestyle brand CRAVEInfused, amplifies the
importance of community reinvestment. She raises questions about the utilization of the “marijuana trust fund”
established by the Rhode Island Cannabis Act. Salmon highlights that this fund could potentially be used to
mend the historical wounds inflicted on communities of color by providing financial support where it’s needed
most. Her poignant query garners applause from a sizable portion of the audience.

Lessons Gained and Future Steps

As the Cannabis Control Commission traverses its listening tour, Chair Kimberly Ahern notes key takeaways from
community members. Concerns range from access to cannabis to the future of medical marijuana. However, the
resounding message centers on rectifying the injustices of the War on Drugs. Ahern underscores the value of
these feedback-sharing moments and expresses the commission’s commitment to the tenets of social equity.

Charting the Path Forward

Ahern anticipates delving deeper into potential regulations by engaging local and out-of-state cannabis experts.
While awaiting the appointment of a Cannabis Advisory Board, Ahern acknowledges a strong framework provided by
the Office of Cannabis and the Department of Health. These foundations will be instrumental in
shaping the future regulations. The final listening tour session is set for August 18, and the commission
welcomes public participation both in-person and through virtual means.

With the fervor for cannabis equity echoing in the hearts of advocates, Rhode Island stands at the cusp of a
transformative era. The journey continues, with the Cannabis Control Commission poised to champion fairness in
every aspect of the emerging cannabis landscape.

Malvin Felix
I'm Malvin, a cannabis news enthusiast who finds joy in staying updated about the latest industry trends. My passion led me to become a dedicated writer, entrepreneur, and investor in the cannabis space. Through my writing, I aim to educate and spark discussions, while my entrepreneurial ventures and strategic investments reflect my commitment to driving positive change in the industry.

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