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Cannabis and Equity 

Historically, marijuana has been used as a tool to target Black and Brown individuals and communities. We know that in the years leading up to legalization in Rochester, for every white person who was arrested for low-level marijuana possession, nearly ten Black people were arrested for the same charge, despite both races consuming cannabis at the same rate. 

The marijuana legalization bill in New York (MRTA) sets the framework to create equity in the regulated cannabis industry for folks who have been disproportionately harmed by prohibition, but this can only be accomplished through community support by providing access and opportunities to the resources needed to get into the industry. The MRTA sets the goal of issuing at least 50% of licenses to equity applicants, including individuals who have been arrested for marijuana-related offenses and their immediate family members. A marijuana arrest or prosecution has long-lasting ripple effects on the lives of individuals and their communities. Someone who was arrested for minor marijuana possession may have lost their job while they were waiting to be processed, lost custody of their child because of discriminatory CPS practices, or lost access to federal aid for student loans; these are just a few of the collateral consequences individuals and communities are still facing today from marijuana prohibition. While marijuana prohibition has been used as a tool to break down Black and Brown individuals and communities, we believe the Cannabis sativa plant will bring us together. Through this event series, we aim to acknowledge the past, celebrate the present, and plan for our future.

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