Oregon Proposes Cannabis Social Equity Program

A group of Oregon activists, business owners, and lawmakers have put forward the Oregon Cannabis Social Equity Act, which aims to use cannabis tax dollars to help repair damage done by the racist drug war.

Full story after the jump.

The Cannabis Equity PAC — a coalition of Oregon cannabis businesses, activists, and politicians — has announced the introduction of the Oregon Cannabis Social Equity Act, the group said in a press release.

HB 3112 would use cannabis tax dollars to help repair the damage done by the “War on Drugs.” Led by former state Rep. Akasha Lawrence-Spence, the group includes the NuLeaf Project, the Oregon Cannabis Association, the Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association, the City of Portland, Urban League, and law students from Willamette University.

“We came together with a common purpose — to undo and repair some of the harm caused by cannabis criminalization on Black, Indigenous and Latinx communities in Oregon.This legislation uses cannabis tax revenue to invest in Oregonians who have been unjustly targeted for decades by law enforcement, in an effort to repair some of the generational harm done to their communities.” — Former Rep. Spence, in a statement

The bill has bi-cameral sponsorship and has three major provisions: direct investment into housing, job training and health care for Black, Indigenous, LatinX, and others convicted of cannabis crimes; the free and automatic expungement of eligible cannabis crimes; and social equity licenses that will have lower application fees, initial requirements. The bill also expands three license types to be more beneficial to small business owners.

“We’ve seen the harm to far too many families to not address this issue,” said Jeanette Ward Horton, the Executive Director of the New Leaf Project. “Cannabis convictions bring challenges that ripple through families and cause hardship for the children of children whose parents were disproportionately arrested. The loss of jobs, education grants, housing and more that can all stem from a minor cannabis conviction have impacted communities of color for generations. Today Oregon has the chance to undo some of that harm.”

Oregon already has a formal process to expunge cannabis crimes. However, according to Rep. Ricki Ruiz, a chief sponsor for the bill, “Less than 200 out of 28,000 Oregonians eligible for expungement were able to successfully complete the process in the past two years. We need to do better.”

“This bill provides us the path and the funding we need to efficiently remove previous cannabis crimes from people’s records and provide them the opportunity to repair their lives from the harm caused by cannabis criminalization,” he said. “It is a critical step toward restoring the health of these individuals and the communities where they reside.”

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