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For the initial time, congressional Democrats held a policy retreat that featured a panel devoted completely to marijuana reform and the need to have to repair the harms of the war on drugs.

The panel at Residence Democrats’ gathering took location final Thursday morning, with reform advocates sharing their viewpoint on cannabis legislation moving by means of Congress and discussing not just why legalization is essential but emphasizing how a legal cannabis program ought to be implemented. That marijuana ought to be legalized seemed to be accepted as a foregone conclusion at the occasion, which attracted no opponents and contained no discussion of no matter whether to finish prohibition. As an alternative, conversations centered on how to shape the legal business.

There was a powerful emphasis on the racial injustices of prohibition at the occasion, which was moderated by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

Titled “From the War on Drugs to Restorative Justice: Making sure Racial and Social Equity in the Cannabis Movement,” the panel drew an enthusiastic crowd in spite of the 7:45 AM start off time. Lawmakers and staffers watched speakers go over challenges such as diversity in the legal cannabis business, the lengthy-term consequences of criminalization and barriers to accessing healthcare marijuana.

Lawmakers who attended the cannabis panel incorporate Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Joe Neguse (D-CO), Deb Haaland (D-NM) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ).

The panel is “another indication of how seriously that Dems are taking the challenge about marijuana reform and their centering of marijuana reform obtaining to be a conversation that is broader than just descheduling,” Queen Adesuyi, policy coordinator at the Drug Policy Alliance and one particular of the event’s speakers, told Marijuana Moment. “It’s a conversation about criminal justice reform, civil rights.”

Residence leadership is involved in approving these conference panels, Adesuyi stated, so the marijuana-precise occasion reflects the Democratic majority’s willingness to advance cannabis legislation in the 116th Congress. Conversations focused on passing bills that had been “comprehensive,” going beyond basically removing marijuana from the Controlled Substance Act but also guaranteeing that the industry that emerges is equitable.

“The important subjects/overarching themes of the discussion will be (1) stopping the hyper-criminalization of communities, (two) assessing the harm carried out by the failed war on drugs, (three) developing a accountable and equitable business in its location, and (four) repairing the harm that has been carried out,” a memo for the panel, obtained by Marijuana Moment, states.

Right here are the “framing questions” the panel addressed, per the memo:

“What are some of the precise approaches that marijuana prohibition and its enforcement has devastated individuals of colour? What are some of the consequences of a marijuana arrest or conviction?

How have these policies impacted communities at massive? What form of lasting consequences have we observed come from marijuana prohibition as a policy?

Will legalizing marijuana for adult use strengthen the predicament? What considerations ought to lawmakers be creating as they appear to legalizing marijuana for adult use? (i.e.Clearing records, investing in communities, reuniting households)

Have the states who have moved on this challenge been intentional about removing the prohibition framework? What are some examples of additional methods that can be taken?

Quite a few states have now designed business without the need of getting intentional about the structural inequities that persist post legalization such as access to capital, what form of burden ought to fall on the states to provide on equity? And what form of challenges are getting knowledgeable by entrepreneurs as they seek to develop in this space?”

Several pieces of cannabis legislation had been listed on the agenda, which includes the wide-ranging Marijuana Justice Act sponsored by Lee and the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Via Entrusting States (STATES) Act from Blumenauer.

Whilst the panel didn’t particularly address the restricted social equity provisions of the STATES Act, which Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) raised as his purpose for declining to cosponsor the legislation this Congress, it did concentrate on the necessity of these provisions.

Passing marijuana reform ought to involve “restorative justice, implementing criminal justice and drug policy reforms, reinvesting in communities of colour, and guaranteeing the inclusion of entrepreneurs of colour in the quickly-moving cannabis business,” the memo states.

“There was a good collegial spirit in the area, exactly where individuals had been seriously feeling energized by wanting to fight to finish prohibition and finish it in a way that is complete,” Adesuyi stated. “It appears like Dems are at the point exactly where they are extra totally understanding the breadth of what it signifies to finish marijuana prohibition.”

Beside the marijuana panel, some Democratic members of Congress at the retreat also participated in a separate trivia game that had a cannabis section. Members had been tested on their expertise of unique kinds of marijuana and smoking apparatuses, and Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) won in the finish by properly answering a query about gravity bongs.

Marijuana Moment Patreon supporters can study the memo for the Democrats’ cannabis panel under:

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Congressional Democrats Compete In Marijuana-Themed Trivia Game

Image element courtesy of Tim Evanson.

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