The Washington D.C. city council has advanced emergency legislation that would grant licensing preference to local and minority owned cannabis businesses applying for a medical marijuana license.
The legislation is part of a growing effort to open up the marijuana industry to racial and ethnic minorities.
Although marijuana, in either recreational or medicinal form, has become legal in more than half of the states throughout the United States, most of those states still have laws banning individuals with drug related crimes from participating in the legal marijuana industry; effectively shutting out those who have been affected the most by the War on Drugs.
Speaking with The Washington Post, Council member and bill sponsor Robert C. White Jr. said that they have an obligation to ensure that local and minority owned cannabis businesses have a chance to get in on the ground floor of the marijuana industry.
“We have locked up so many black people for marijuana, and I see it as incredibly hypocritical for those folks to return from prison on marijuana charges just to come back to a place that has now legalized and industrialized it, and they can’t play any role,” said White.
Under the proposed legislation, eligible businesses, as defined by the Small, Local, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Development and Assistance Act of 2005, would be granted an additional 20 points or 7.5% of available points, whichever is greater, on their medical marijuana license application.
If approved, the measure will go into effect immediately and last for 90 days.