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Farming, racial justice coalition opposing regulated cannabis bill

(WAGM)
Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 3:52 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 17, 2020 at 4:24 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont lawmakers are in the 11th hour of creating a regulated market for cannabis, but not everyone is happy with their work. A coalition of racial justice and agricultural organizations say that as written, the bill will actually hurt Vermont’s minority communities.

The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance, NOFA Vermont, and others say the Legislature hasn’t taken into account how systemic racism could affect the pot market when it’s set up. In the bill’s current form, when applying for licenses to sell, women and minority-owned businesses are placed behind existing medical dispensaries. The coalition also says minorities traditionally don’t already have the grow operation infrastructure and resources to open a business. The groups are calling on Governor Scott to veto the bill.

“This policy hurts more than it helps. The absence of this policy is better for Black folks in this industry than the presence of this policy. It’s disappointing that we’ve come to this place where we have to ask the Legislature to put the brakes on this thing,” said

Mark Hughes with the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance.

In an effort to curb racial disparities in the criminal justice system, lawmakers this week passed a bill that would expunge all marijuana possession charges under two ounces.

The Senate is expected to vote on the marijuana market bill Friday.

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