Group—Made Up of Current and Former Cannabis Regulators, Public Health Professionals, Criminal Justice Reform Advocates, Civil Rights Attorneys & Social Equity Industry Leaders—Weighs in on What Just & Equitable Regulation Should Look Like
Washington, D.C — Today, the Federal Cannabis Regulations Working Group released its Principles for Federal Cannabis Regulations & Reform, outlining what a federal regulatory framework—grounded in justice and social equity—should look like. The working group was convened by the Drug Policy Alliance at the beginning of this year.
Throughout a series of meetings and in-depth conversations, the group—made up of cannabis state regulators, public health professionals, criminal justice reform advocates, civil rights attorneys, people working with directly impacted communities in the cannabis industry, re-entry advocates, academics and an expert involved in Canada’s cannabis regulation—has identified key principles that should guide the development of federal cannabis regulation policies. The principles document encourages and provides guidance on issues related to racial justice, equity, preventing underage use, elimination of lifelong consequences, medical use, taxation, research and more. This release precedes the group’s continued effort to develop and roll out a more comprehensive set of recommendations for Congress on crucial issues such as - but not limited to - which federal agency should regulate cannabis (and to what extent), what kind of product should cannabis be regulated as, expungement, workforce development, medical use, non-commercial activity, and enforcement.
"As we get closer to federal marijuana legalization being a reality in the United States, it’s more urgent than ever before to create a regulatory framework that both comprehensively addresses the harms of prohibition and ensures just and equitable future outcomes," said Queen Adesuyi, Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance's Office of National Affairs. "We have already seen the way industry is jockeying for the opportunity to regulate themselves, and it is critical that advocates—who are representing the interest of those who have been most impacted by prohibition, and those who are in the best position to prevent future harms—set the agenda for how federal cannabis regulation should work. The legal cannabis industry offers an opportunity to encourage and build out an emerging marketplace that is intentionally accessible to Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and working class entrepreneurs as well as legacy operators that have borne the brunt of prohibition."
While the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment & Expungement (MORE) Act, passed by the House last session, addressed the impacts of criminalization in a comprehensive way, in its original form it did not address regulation. These recommendations intend to close that loop, and to prevent unintended and problematic language from getting added to the bill as it did prior to being passed out of the House last year.
The principles emerged from several thorough and informed conversations held by the core group members of the Federal Cannabis Regulations Working Group. The group continues to meet and formulate further recommendations that will be offered to Congress, namely to Senators Booker, Wyden, and Majority Leader Schumer, who plan to take on regulations in the next iteration of the MORE Act. The group’s recommendations will be vetted by a lengthy list of subject matter experts across sectors and issue areas, including medical doctors, academics, researchers, immigration attorneys, labor law experts, directly impacted individuals and leaders, and more.
Shaleen Title, Esq., The Ohio State University College of Law Distinguished Cannabis Practitioner in Residence and former Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commissioner:
“When decision makers agree with voters on the goals for cannabis policy -- such as preventing Big Tobacco from taking over the cannabis industry -- that's only step one. In my experience as a regulator, the goal of protecting and encouraging small businesses proved especially difficult to implement partly because those businesses don't have an army of lobbyists, lawyers, and other paid representatives offering to develop technical policies on their behalf. Big corporations have the most ‘advocates.’ From my perspective, the key aspect of a good federal legalization bill is to limit domination of the market by big corporations to allow for the support of small businesses, social equity programs, and alternative ownership models such as cooperatives. I appreciate the opportunity to team up on this with everyone in the Federal Cannabis Regulations Working Group.”
Eliana Green, Esq., Equal Justice Works Fellow, Root and Rebound Reentry Advocates:
“Root and Rebound is grateful for the opportunity to contribute our expertise to the Federal Cannabis Regulations Working Group. As a national reentry legal services organization, we see the disastrous, often life-long consequences of the War on Drugs every day in the experiences of the individual clients and communities we serve. As radical optimists, we are part of a broad movement for racial and gender equity, justice, collective liberation, and intergenerational healing. We are hopeful that by listening to and taking direction from people with conviction histories, Congress will produce legislation that addresses the devastating past and current harms of the War on Drugs, while ensuring future generations can live their lives, pursue their dreams and reach their full potential free from persecution and oppression.”
Dr. Rachel Knox, Co-founder and Chair, Association for Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine; Board member for Doctors for Cannabis Regulation:
“The Federal Cannabis Regulations Working Group embraces holistic cannabis policy reform, advocating for federal regulation that is not only comprehensive and rational, but impactful and centered in health equity–ensuring that all aspects of legalization and regulation improve access to wellbeing in the communities most negatively impacted by prohibition. The Association for Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine (ACHEM) and Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR) are honored to participate in this process, and, as seasoned medical professionals in cannabis, cannabinoid medicine, and endocannabinology, our hope is for Congress to pass legislation that frames regulation around opportunity, institutional and public reeducation, research, restitution, and safe access to cannabis and cannabinoid products tested for consistency and purity–labeled with information on potency, responsible consumption, and health warnings for vulnerable populations–and to resources and long-overdue support from the medical community.”
Daniel Bear, Professor with the Criminal Justice Degree Program at Humber College in Toronto:
“Canada was the first G20 country to legalize cannabis and has shown that legal access can create a vibrant and safe cannabis market. But Canada didn’t get everything right. We focused on creating successful businesses but left out the legacy market. We focused on public health principles but didn’t build a system that met the needs of regular consumers. We recognized the harm prohibition had caused but haven’t worked to rectify that harm quickly enough. The U.S. has a great opportunity to build upon Canada’s initial foray and launch a just, safe, and equitable cannabis market from the start.”