Social Equity for Marijuana Possession
Massachusetts is launching the nations first statewide “social equity” program to help people convicted of a drug offense in connection with marijuana. The program is set up to help people who have previously been convicted get work in the newly legal marijuana industry.
Minorities higher arrest rate for marijuana possession
The goal is to do outreach in communities who have been most impacted by the war on drugs. It does not specifically address the issue of race as a qualifier for the program, but minorities have a higher arrest and conviction rate than their white counterparts. This high conviction rate is not only an issue for those facing the incarceration, but it effects their families and the community as a whole.
A spouse or child of someone convicted will also qualify for the program as long as they live in the state of Massachusetts. Other qualifiers are; an individual or family who has lived in an impacted community for over 5 years or has an income 400% below the poverty line.
Massachusetts training for legal marijuana industry
The program will train for various aspects of the legal marijuana industry. This is a way to put people who have been incarcerated and disproportionally impacted back to a place of dignity.
There are four areas of training in this program to help reintegrate former offenders; owners/entrepreneurs, management and executive level careers, entry level jobs and those who have professional skills such as accounting or law, plumbers, electricians to re-train specifically for the cannabis industry.
Currently in the states where marijuana is legal 81% of cannabis business owners are white. Only 5.7 Latino and 4.3% black. This bill has a goal of changing those statistics.
This Massachusetts program seems like an innovative way to put the formerly convicted and their families back into a workforce quickly and make amends for unjust and unfair treatment that impacted individuals, families and whole communities.