It seems that Adam Bierman / #MedMen is an avatar for greed and investor gambling in the legal cannabis space. I was inspired to hear Steve DeAngelo speak at an industry event 4 years ago and say on stage: “We have harnessed the engine of free enterprise to the train of social justice, and there is no stopping us now.” Instead, it looks like free enterprise has become a runaway train unhitched from social justice.
Continued legalization of recreational or “adult-use” cannabis should slow down for a little emergency breathing room or “ER,” that is:
1) E = Expungement: Felony records of mere cannabis consumers should be expunged in concert with legalization in any state. It’s a known fact that while people of color and white Americans use marijuana at the same levels, Blacks and Latinos are 4x more likely to get arrested and to have a criminal record for it.
2) R = Reparations: A portion of the state tax revenue from cannabis sales should be dedicated to a universal basic income (UBI) fund for reparations for any person (below certain income thresh-holds) that has a felony record for nothing other than cannabis use / possession. Yeah, I said it -- REPARATIONS … for those individuals that have been harmed by an unjust and failed War on Drugs that policymakers from the Nixon administration later admitted were targeted at specific communities for political purposes.
I realize most advocates of legalization – especially the industry and free enterprise crowd - don’t want to erect any barriers on the path to legalization because the journey is already hard and political, But if social justice isn’t inextricably bound to the legalization effort, then advancement of legal recreational marijuana industry will only entrench structural oppression, albeit in a different package, that have existed for too long in the US.
[Note: I differentiate between medicinal marijuana and recreational legalization because it is immoral to deny a person access to a medicine that they and their doctor have determined can improve their health or relieve suffering. Recreational use of THC, however, is a discretionary activity.]