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Drug Policy Alliance releases memo on how cannabis businesses can be socially responsible

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Drug Policy Alliance releases memo on how cannabis businesses can be socially responsible


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Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

The Drug Policy Alliance recently released a new memo that focuses on how people in the cannabis industry can be more socially responsible. The document points out that the War on Drugs has disproportionately harmed communities of color and that business leaders need to do what they can to help heal the wounds this created.

The document says business leaders should resist “attempts to legislatively or administratively exclude people with marijuana-related arrests or convictions from working in or otherwise accessing the sector” and that they should promote “automatic expungement of records for people with marijuana convictions” and invest in “the communities that have been most impacted by prohibition.”

Jag Davies, the director of communications strategy at the Drug Policy Alliance, told Cannabis News Box that businesses need to be ethical and push for legislative reforms that will help communities that the prohibition of cannabis has hurt the most.

“We’re kind of in an important moment right now where the battle isn’t over whether marijuana is going to get legalized but how it’s going to get legalized,” Davies said. “Our main priority has been working with policymakers to ensure that the laws are structured in a way that will repair the harms as much as possible and that levels the playing field as much as possible.”

Davies said business leaders should make sure their companies hire people with criminal records, since they’ve been targeted by the War on Drugs and often excluded from the industry, and they should make sure they’re hiring a diverse group of people and that their leadership is diverse.

One problem Davies pointed out is that many companies appear to be trying to shut out the competition in the market, often through lawmakers, which is problematic if we’re going to address the harms caused by the War on Drugs. If people of means are the only ones who can enter the industry and then dominate it, then it’s likely people of color won’t be able to start small businesses and participate in the industry.

“We’re seeing more corporate marijuana entities that are intent on controlling their market share and maximizing profits, so they’re trying to block measures that would effectively regulate the industry and prevent monopolization,” Davies said.

Davies pointed out that being seen as a socially responsible company can actually help your business because a lot of cannabis consumers want to buy their products from companies that they feel are ethical, thoughtful and fair.

“There’s always going to be a niche in the market for socially responsible companies,” Davies said.

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