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DCFPI Urges Lawmakers to Introduce Cannabis Policy That Brings Justice to Black and Brown Communities

New Report Calls on District Lawmakers to Consider Three Crucial Elements When Crafting Legislation

This Black History Month, the DC Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI) is urging lawmakers to introduce reparative cannabis policy for Black and brown people in the District this council period.

Today the nonprofit released a new report entitled, “First in Line: Why The District Must Take a Reparative Approach to Recreational Cannabis Policy for Black and Brown Communities.” Written by Policy Analyst Doni Crawford, the report calls on DC Council and the city’s leaders to develop legislation that ensures Black and brown communities come first by addressing past and current harms, designing a recreational cannabis industry that fosters racial inclusion, and devoting cannabis tax revenue towards reparations and building community wealth.

To ensure these elements are included in cannabis legislation in Crawford makes several recommendations in the report, including:

  • Automatically expunging criminal records for cannabis-related offenses and dismissing pending criminal charges.
  • Establishing legal spaces for public cannabis consumption.
  • Protecting cannabis consumers from employer discrimination.
  • Allowing and supporting those with cannabis-related criminal offenses to access opportunities in the industry.
  • Using cannabis tax revenue to benefit those disproportionately targeted and criminalized.

“In DC, it’s not enough to just have legalized cannabis—leaders must be intentional about the design of the cannabis industry,” Crawford said. “With the Democratic-led Senate, Congress may soon give DC its autonomy to legalize the sale and regulation of recreational cannabis. The District can legally hold hearings today and be intentional about addressing the harm criminalization has had on Black and brown communities. This report lays out solutions to help policymakers get this right.”

“First in Line” details the history of racist associations with cannabis, the effects of criminalization and mass incarceration on Black and brown communities, and provides solutions to repair these harms.

“Legalizing the sale and regulation of recreational cannabis—and doing it right—will be an ongoing process of reflection, but will greatly benefit the city, especially Black and brown residents who have been historically and systemically hurt by past and current policies. DC policymakers can continue advancements in racial equity and help build a just economic recovery with racially inclusive recreational cannabis policy.”

This report and call to action for DC’s leaders comes just a month after the Council Office on Racial Equity (CORE) started operations, following the passage of the Racial Equity Achieves Results Act in DC. DCFPI partnered with the DC Initiative on Racial Equity and the DC Council on the creation of the CORE office.


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