We have known for years that marijuana prohibition laws disproportionately harm communities of color. A 2013 ACLU report analyzing FBI arrest data found that black Rhode Islanders were nearly three times more likely to be arrested than whites for marijuana possession from 2001 to 2010.
State Representatives Anastasia Williams and Marcia Ranglin-Vassell have introduced legislation (H 5795, H 6069, H 6070, and H 6073) to address the disparate impacts of marijuana prohibition, and tomorrow afternoon, the House Finance Committee will hold a hearing to discuss their proposals. Collectively, the bills would direct regulators to study the disproportionate harms of marijuana arrests, establish programs to assist business applicants who have been affected, create an economic opportunity fund for reinvestment in communities most harmed by prohibition, and require marijuana business licenses to be distributed more equitably.
You can find details about the hearing and links to each of the bills here. If you are able to attend, please consider testifying in support of cannabis equity in front of the committee. The committee will meet at roughly 4:30 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday, May 29) in Room 35 of the State House (82 Smith Street, Providence).