Last night I attended a well hosted town hall discussion panel at Olive-Harvey College on Chicago’s South Side. Being the same college where I earned my Associate’s Degree, I would have never thought I’d see a discussion of this nature at my school. Cray and wonderful. Here’s what happened:
The panel was led by Senator Elgie Sims and co-hosted by State Rep Marcus Evans and State Rep Nick Smith. Speakers included Kareem Kenyatta of Marijuana Policy Project, Rose Ashby, field director for Senator Heather Steans, Edie Moore, Donte Townsend, and Kiana Hughes of Chicago NORML, and Daniel Pettigrew, president and co-founder of Viola Brands. It was a lot!
For a full stream of the town hall on Facebook, click here:
Many of the points presented included:
- Home grow
- Adult recreational use
- Workers and tenants safe use rights
- Business and cultivation permits/licensing
- Restorative justice
There were even some opponents of recreational legalization present, represented by Safe Approaches to Marijuana. Meh. But both sides are important to have present for a full perspective. What needs to happen is a concise understanding of what these groups are really fighting for. The good news is we have the ears of these elected officials, and they are aware that our demands include but aren’t limited to:
- INCREASE DIVERSITY & ACCOUNTABILITY FOR CANNABIS BUSINESSES
- REDUCE BARRIERS TO ENTRY & INCREASE POTENTIAL FOR SUCCESSFUL OPERATION
- EXPAND LICENSE TYPES
- AUTOMATIC EXPUNGEMENT OF CANNABIS CONVICTIONS
- DEFINE DISPROPORTIONATELY IMPACTED AREAS (DIA)
- CREATE CANNABIS EQUITY COMMISSION
- CREATE & DEVELOP CANNABIS APPRENTICESHIP TRAINING PROGRAMS
- COMMUNITY BENEFITS AGREEMENTS FOR CANNABIS BUSINESSES
- CREATE CANNABIS ZONES, MARKETPLACES & ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICTS
Source: Chicago NORML
Additionally, programs like ROC, Restoring Our Communities, presented by the MPP reflect what people of color are demanding from the government and cannabis companies. These programs are committed to assisting communities subject to violence, economic disinvestment and historical overuse of criminal justice responses.
Source: Marijuana Policy Project
Daniel Pettigrew spoke briefly about partnering with former NBA star Al Harrington to start Viola Brands cannabis cultivation company and the plans to open 3 locations in Illinois. Currently Viola employs about 120 people and seeking to add 80 more by the year’s end. His goal is to increase the market for more people of color to enter via co-ops and smaller, craft-style cultivation companies. I will be speaking with brotha Pettigrew very soon about his journey and how he is currently educating the public on how to get started in the industry! To learn more about Viola, click here violabrands.com
Stay informed and engaged blogees, and have an elevated day!