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Reform activists have long concluded that the drug war of the 1980s and 1990s is an unmitigated failure. Although the war on drugs was ostensibly launched to cut financial outflows to criminal organizations and address drug addiction in the United States, it has resulted in the incarceration of significant numbers of people on minor drug charges, decimated families in Black and Brown communities and contributed to already entrenched racial disparities.
Now that cannabis drug reform is sweeping across the country, most states have included social justice provisions in their cannabis laws to try and alleviate the disproportionate damage caused by the failed drug war. These social justice provisions have dedicated tens of millions of dollars toward reinvesting into communities that were disproportionately affected by the drug war and giving members of these communities a chance to benefit from the nascent cannabis industry.
Last week, President Joseph Biden signed an executive order touting his administration’s effort to address the federal government’s failed approach toward cannabis policy. The president stated that his administration had taken action to correct America’s failed approach to cannabis, protect citizens’ civil rights, advance criminal justice, and fight increasing extremism and hate-fueled violence.
A fact sheet released in tandem with the executive order listed and delved into Biden’s actions regarding cannabis policy.
In 2022, the president issued a mass pardon for people who had been convicted of nonviolent federal marijuana possession. He also called for a review to be conducted on federal cannabis prohibition under the Controlled Substances Act. The schedule classifies cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance alongside drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
Alluding to the thousands of Americans who were either incarcerated or saddled with criminal records due to cannabis possession, the fact sheet noted that marijuana prohibition had affected too many people’s lives for partaking in an activity that was now legal in over two dozen states. It also highlighted that Biden’s mass pardon was meant to lift the barriers to employment, educational opportunities and housing for individuals who had prior cannabis convictions on their records.
Furthermore, the fact sheet noted that Biden had instructed governors across the country to follow suit and issue cannabis pardons for nonviolent possession offenses at the local and state levels.
In addition to this, the executive order called on agencies in the federal government to create a yearly Equity Action Plan to study barriers that prevent underserved communities from benefitting from and even accessing state and federal programs.
Even with those equity programs in place, many operators will still seek out entities such as REZYFi Inc. for funding because accessing needed funds from mainstream banks is still a distant dream for players in the marijuana space.
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