Racial justice organization condemns cannabis bill

Racial justice organization condemns cannabis bill

By Erin Brown

Marijuana users and advocates in Vermont are calling on Gov. Phil Scott to veto a cannabis bill.

A group of about 50 people met outside the Vermont Statehouse on Sunday to voice their concerns that Senate Bill 54, which seeks to regulate cannabis.

The group believes the legislation fails to address the current impact systemic racism has on the cannabis industry, as well as the historical, social and economic impact cannabis has on BIPOC communities disproportionately harmed by the criminalization of marijuana.

According to the Legislature’s website, the purpose of the bill is to establish a comprehensive regulatory system for the production and sale of cannabis and cannabis products in Vermont.

The bill also seeks to create the Cannabis Control Board as the independent regulatory authority for a commercial cannabis market. The board would be responsible for adopting regulations and administering a licensing program, including compliance and enforcement, for cannabis establishments.

It would also create a 12-member appointed advisory board composed of members with expertise in public health, systemic social justice and equity issues, women and minority-owned business ownership, substance misuse prevention and the cannabis industry.

People against the bill, like Mark Hughes of the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance, have questions and concerns about who would appoint people to sit on that board.

Hughes says a major question the VRJA has is who will pay and who will profit? The organization recently sent a 15-page document of proposals to the Legislature.

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