Advocacy Groups Push Colorado To Make Legal Marijuana Market More Equitable

Advocacy Groups Push Colorado To Make Legal Marijuana Market More Equitable

Colorado can do a lot more to make its legal marijuana market more open, transparent and equitable, a coalition of criminal justice reform advocacy groups said in a recent letter outlining regulatory recommendations.

The coalition, led by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), put forward 12 recommendations—ranging from the revocation of an industry-specific vertical integration requirement to the establishment of a micro-licensing program. The proposals were submitted to the state’s Department of Regulatory Affairs.

“Since Colorado became the first state to legally regulate marijuana, the national conversation has shifted from whether we’ll legalize to how we should do it,” Art Way, DPA Colorado state director, said in a press release.

“Colorado can do much more to address the lasting impacts of decades of mass criminalization. Given the current lack of diversity in Colorado’s legal marijuana market, we urgently need to follow the lead of other states and cities that are implementing policies to reduce barriers to entry in the industry.”

While one of the main objectives of cannabis reform has been to resolve the socioeconomic and racial injustices brought about by the war on drugs, excess regulations of Colorado’s legal system has created a new set of barriers—particularly financial—for communities that have been most impacted by prohibitionist policies, the coalition said.

With that said, the coalition is promoting a series of reforms in order to address concerns about “who can work in the industry” and “how the industry itself is regulated.”

Signees on the recommendation letter include DPA, Black Lives Matter 5280, Cannability Foundation, Cannabis Consumers Coalition, Cannabis Global Initiative, Colorado Fiscal Institute, Colorado Latino Forum, Denver NORML, Denver Relief Consulting, kindColorado, Minority Cannabis Business Association, NAACP of CO, MT and WY, Sensible Colorado, Servicios de la Raza and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

You can read the full recommendation letter below.

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See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Advocacy Groups Push Colorado To Make Legal Marijuana Market More Equitable

Cory Booker Bill Would Let Students With Drug Convictions Keep Financial Aid

Cory Booker Bill Would Let Students With Drug Convictions Keep Financial Aid

Every year, about 1,000 students lose some or all of their federal financial aid because they admit to having a conviction for a marijuana or other drug offense. But a Senate bill filed on Friday would change that.

One provision of the bill—which aims to “streamline the financial aid application process” overall—would eliminate a question on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) regarding drug convictions. Currently, applicants must answer this question:

“Have you been convicted for the possession or sale of illegal drugs for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid (such as grants, work-study, or loans)?”

In some cases, a “yes” response could mean the difference between going on to graduate or dropping out. Low-income students, who might not be able to afford tuition without federal aid, are particularly impacted.

That’s why a growing number of civil rights, drug reform and higher education groups have called for the question to be removed from the FAFSA. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and a coalition of six other senators hope their new bill will achieve that goal.

“We know that when a student completes the federal financial aid form, he or she is more likely to receive aid, attend college, and graduate from college,” Booker said in a press release. “But sadly, less than half of today’s high school students complete the form, and students from underserved backgrounds complete the form at even lower rates than their peers.”

“Our bill would simplify the complicated process in order to reduce barriers to higher learning for students from marginalized populations.”

A similar House bill introduced by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) last year also called for the elimination of the drug conviction eligibility question on the FAFSA.

The “Simplifying Financial Aid for Students Act” would do more than just remove that one question. It would also take steps to simplify the process of determining financial aid eligibility and make the FAFSA available to the young immigrants known as DREAMers, for example.

But the drug conviction question is an important one that’s penalized tens of thousands of students since Congress first enacted the aid ban in 1998. There have been efforts to revise the question so that students don’t automatically lose all of their aid if they self-report a drug conviction, but even a partial loss can derail students on the path to higher education.

“The drug conviction question, which remains on the FAFSA, serves solely as a deterrent to higher education from the students who might benefit from it most: particularly, students of color whose communities have been overpoliced and marginalized by the drug war,” Betty Aldworth, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, told Marijuana Moment.

“We champion any effort to assure students equitable access to education, and look forward to the day when young people who are unlucky enough to be caught using drugs are not punished for the same behavior that half of their peers get away with.”

Initial cosponsors of Booker’s financial aid reform bill are Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Doug Jones (D-AL), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV).

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Cory Booker Bill Would Let Students With Drug Convictions Keep Financial Aid

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

How the Legal Cannabis Industry is Empowering Students

How the Legal Cannabis Industry is Empowering Students

Active around the globe, the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) is celebrating 19 years of advocacy as a grassroots network of students and alumni whose mission is to educate, reform, and update communities about the impact of drug abuse. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., SSDP is an active member of the cannabis legalization movement and is a regular at industry expos and events and is hosting a soiree during the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) Oakland conference this coming week.

According to SSDP, the War on Drugs is failing our society, that’s why they focus on young up-and-coming students to carry the torch into the new era of cannabis legalization. The organization carries out efforts on many drug-related fronts, but cannabis law reform is a huge part of their objective. For instance, just last month the two founding members of the SSDP Austria chapter marched along other supporters who were handing over a petition with 10,000 signatures to Parliamentary Director Dr. Harald Dossi in defense of sensible drug policies. The petition is regarding the Narcotic Drugs Act (SMG), which would put Austria in conflict with the worldwide trend towards cannabis regulation and outlaw CBD by “styling it as a chemical”.

It’s interesting to note that SSDP neither condones nor condemns drug use. They support the rights of everyone to make their own decisions as to what’s right for their health and use civic engagement amongst the youth to fuel communities around the world to change outdated drug policies and put an end to propagandized anti-drug rhetoric.

Oakland NCIA Conference Evening Soiree

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The fourth annual NCIA Cannabis Business Summit will take place from June 12th through June 14th in Oakland, California. June 13th will be a busy day for those in attendance as Vicente Fox, Former President of Mexico & President of Coca-Cola Latin America, is slated to speak in support of legalization followed by SSDP’s evening soiree for ticket holders.

As keynote speaker, the Former President of Mexico is going to talk about his support of cannabis legalization in both America and Mexico. Back in 2013, Fox advocated for legalization, saying it’s t  he only way to end the violence of Mexican drug cartels. “The cost of the war is becoming unbearable – too high for Mexico, for Latin America and for the rest of the world,” Fox once said in a press conference. Fox will also discuss the social injustices created by the war on drugs and the positive effects of global governments adopting cannabis legalization.

The ‘Sensible Celebration’ kicks off at 7:30pm with a screening of Mary Janes: The Women of Weed, featuring SSDP students and staff alongside some of the most hard-working women in cannabis. In celebration of so much sensibility when it comes to cannabis, SSDP promises a dance party in the venue’s outdoor beer garden. Tickets are available and include drink tickets and dessert. The proceeds also go to supporting SSDP’s ongoing efforts to end the harms of drug prohibition.

Denver Charity Golf Tournament Benefitting SSDP

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SSDP holds a dear place in many ganjapreneurs’ hearts. Their work has affected hundreds of thousands of patients, businesses, and consumers, and the Denver cannabis community wants to give back to the organization with the third annual Cannabis Charity Open.

Hosted by High Rollers dispensary and The Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, the July golf tournament’s mission is two-fold. First, they are happy to donate the proceeds to SSDP. Secondly, the annual charity tradition serves to normalize cannabis by linking it to a mainstream sport – golf! All of the proceeds from the tournament will go to charity. Tickets for the Cannabis Charity Open are on sale now and food, drink, and a gift bag are included with a ticket purchase. Teams tee-off on July 27th from 1:00 until 7:30 pm at the Denver Park Hill Golf Club.

This year’s sponsors are rooted in providing education of the health benefits of hemp-derived CBD and medical marijuana. THC Magazine is one of the go-to publications in Denver for the latest on industrial hemp and cannabis, and High Rollers dispensary is a high-end medical cannabis boutique shop in the heart of South Pearl Street in Denver.

High Rollers is all about benefitting the larger community, and in order to help foster a healthy community (instead of just turning a profit), they regularly engage in community-based services like fund-raisers and charity events. For instance, last year’s Cannabis Charity Open brought in more than $2,000 to benefit the Denver Colorado AIDS project. Managing dispensary partner Luke Ramirez explained that the dispensary is a great way to encourage connection within the Denver communities.

“Communities thrive when individuals thrive, and we seek to help our neighbors find balance in their lives however we can – one way we do this is through the healing power of cannabis,” he said. Another way is putting on charitable events like the 2017 Cannabis Charity Open. Ramirez is no stranger to cannabis. Since 2009 he has been actively involved in multiple cannabis trade organizations, lobbying efforts, and advocacy groups. Active in cannabis ventures nationwide, Ramirez also served as a former board member of the National Cannabis Industry Association.

Giving back to SSDP supports their outreach to students who are going to change the way the world thinks about and polices drugs. “Students are at the forefront of the movement to legalize cannabis and end the War on Drugs, and SSDP has been organizing, guiding, and raising the voices of young activists for 19 years,” according to their mission statement. A donation to SSDP mobilizes and empowers young people to participate in the political process, pushing for sensible policies to achieve a safer and more just future.

Originally published: The Marijuana Times

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