Marijuana policy reform was not enacted to make people rich.

Even so, as things continue to ramp up for the cannabis industry, it looks like there are some people positioned to make a lot of money.

And as is often the case, the promises of riches could come at the cost of ethics.

This is precisely why pro-legalization advocates with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) have unveiled a four-page document that stresses how the thriving cannabis industry needs to remember social responsibilities in this increasingly legal industry.

What the DPA Is Suggesting

Through a series of questions, they’d first like for cannabis industry players to strongly consider a range of different issues.

For example, is the business a social benefit corporation or a non-profit? Maybe it’s a cooperative or a collective. Which causes is the company supporting through donations? And if there are no donations, what percentage of profits will be donated to non-profits?

Does the company support a free and fair marijuana market so as not to have an unfair advantage? And is there a policy against drug testing for employees?

Another hot button topic is whether they support home grow. In doing so, they’re ensuring access for those who either live too far away from a dispensary or simply can’t afford retail marijuana.

Also, they need to pay attention to how inclusive they are in their hiring practices and whether they’re in support of scaled license tiers.

Above and beyond all of this, though, is the shift of the DPA’s work over the past few years to emphasize racial and restorative justice provisions.

Repairing the Harms of Federal Prohibition

This is a big one. And it’s going to require a lot more than sweeping up behind a mess.

Federal prohibition has historically oppressed communities of color. And some of the most shameful racial disparities can be seen among African Americans and Latinos.

In fact, nearly 80% of people in federal prison and almost 60% of people in state prison for drug offenses are black or Latino.

Both groups “have suffered dramatic rates of arrest, mass criminalization, heavy-handed policing, seizure of property with little or no process, and large-scale deportations,” said DPA Executive Director Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno in a statement.

So along with addressing the above questions, the four-page memo also asks industry players to take notice of their contributions toward repairing the harms of prohibition.

Reparations consist of three actions:

  • ensuring that the harm is not continuing
  • supporting the development of a historical record of the damage marijuana prohibition has caused, including the oppression of communities of color
  • advocating for initiatives that attempt to remedy past harms

Another measure the DPA encourages business to take is opposing laws that shun those who have been arrested or convicted on marijuana-related charges from working in the industry.

And finally, they strongly recommend that those in the cannabis industry invest in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis enforcement by creating opportunities to help people from these communities to participate in the industry.

Cannabis Industry Needs to Remember Social Responsibilities

These early days of states’ legalization are mildly akin to the Wild West. It’s decidedly new territory. And who knows what the days of federal legalization will hold.

As we mentioned above, marijuana reform wasn’t crafted to make folks rich. It was done to end the mindless oppression of those who choose to consume cannabis.

And while it’s certainly led to a growing marketplace – which is a good thing – the oppression continues. It’s even perpetuated by some who are actually in the industry.

“The Drug Policy Alliance correctly identified one of the biggest problems emerging in the reform movement: the ‘I got mine and you’re on your own’ mentality,” says Justin Strekal, the political director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

“It’s a travesty to see business leaders making millions of dollars and bragging about how great they are while they do nothing to stop the practice of arrests in a nearby state or bring wholeness to their neighbors who have had their lives disrupted or destroyed by criminalization just a few years earlier for essentially the same activity.”

With the DPA calling for accountability, we can only hope that existing and emerging leaders uphold their social responsibilities.

It’s the right thing to do.

Is Your Cannabis Business Committed to Social Accountability?

As a cannabis marketing firm, we strongly believe that the thriving cannabis industry needs to remember social responsibilities.

It is the surest foundation for healthy growth.

If you have a socially responsible cannabis business – or are in the midst of establishing one – contact us to help you with your marketing efforts. We believe in social accountability.

And we’ll be sure others know that you do too.