The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has joined hands with other civil rights and criminal justice groups within the Marijuana Justice Coalition (MJC) to drum support for small marijuana firms.
In a coalition letter addressed to the Congress, the MJC requested that small marijuana firms be allowed access to the COVID-19 emergency relief funds. According to the coalition, the funds currently administered by the Small Business Administration, could protect the progress made by minority entrepreneurs in the emerging cannabis sector.
Marijuana firms are “essential” providers
While the federal government has not legalized marijuana in the U.S., administrators and lawmakers have recognized cannabis as an “essential” business. Part of the coalition’s letter reads:
Now more than ever, if we are to provide pathways of opportunity and ownership for communities that have been historically targeted and marginalized under the senseless and cruel policies of marijuana criminalization, Congress must protect these small businesses in order to ensure a level playing field in these emerging markets. Financial relief must be extended to these businesses that a majority of governors and other government officials have deemed “essential” at this moment.
Advocates of marijuana decriminalization
For many years, marijuana use has been criminalized and used as an instrument of oppression, especially against the minority communities. A recent report by the ACLU revealed that black Americans were almost 4 times more likely to be arrested for a marijuana crime than whites, regardless of similar usage rates. More information on racial disparity among arrests is available on NORML’s factsheet.
NORML is a nonprofit lobby group that gives voice to Americans who use marijuana responsibly and believe in its recreational and medicinal effects. For more than 40 years, it has supported the interests of millions of cannabis users who oppose marijuana criminalization.
NORML is among the parties under the Marijuana Justice Coalition, which consists of Human Rights Watch, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the ACLU, the Drug Policy Alliance, and more.
In their letter to the Congressional Leadership, the MJC emphasized that the emergency relief funding is critical to the vulnerable minority-owned small businesses in the marijuana sector. The lobbyists underscored the fact that the majority of states where marijuana is legal have “deemed access to the product “essential” to the health and welfare of the community.”