Social and economic justice, from licensing to employment, has been a hot issue in New Mexico’s burgeoning cannabis industry, and there are several ways the public can think when formulating recommendations.
The Cannabis Regulatory Advisory Committee — tasked with advising the cannabis control department — allowed public comment on fairness at its meeting on Thursday and published online survey Seek feedback on developing a plan to promote participation in the industry by members of communities disproportionately affected by the drug war.
The committee, which held its first meeting in early August, had about three months to make recommendations on fairness, which Drug Policy Alliance president Emily Kaltenbach said SFR “isn’t enough time and too long” because “fairness can’t wait.”
“There are a lot of well-established cannabis companies that will move easily and dominate the market and we want to make sure that those who may need to get capital, technical assistance, other support services, or loans, will have a successful opportunity in this new industry,” Caltenbach said during interview last month.
The survey includes questions about the biggest barriers to entry for business owners and workers, eligibility criteria for those applying for property rights assistance — such as, for example, a misdemeanor or felony arrest for cannabis use — and what strategies the state will be following Effectiveness in addressing equity issues.
One such strategy is loans. Lawmakers on the New Mexico Financial Authority Oversight Committee last month unacceptable A proposal to allow up to $5 million in small business loans for cannabis with 200 or fewer mature plants.
Marquita Russell, chief executive of the New Mexico Funding Authority, told lawmakers that small businesses “have very few options” for financing, but some lawmakers said there were more questions to be answered before the proposal was approved.
“We are still looking at whether or not this is a program that we will follow,” Lynn Tolby, director of communications and outreach at the NMFA, told SFR magazine.
Advocates say that while business owners have been a strong focus in discussions of equity, workers cannot be left out.
“In the latest federal proposals, every one of them has this explicit and worthwhile focus on equity for entrepreneurs and giving previously incarcerated people privileged access… to get into the business but no one has really said anything about standards to ensure cannabis jobs,” says David Cooper, chief economic analyst. at the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank.
This is a problem because “the vast majority of people who will interact with this industry in terms of their careers will be people who work on a regular basis,” Cooper says.
Cooper co-authored the article a report Published in September explores the importance of protecting job quality and workers’ collective bargaining rights in cannabis.
CCD announced last week that it will hold a public hearing on December 1 on draft new rules, including a provision requiring all cannabis companies – except for small ones – to enter into labor peace agreements as a condition of licensing. These agreements state that companies will not act against the trade unions of their employees if the union agrees not to strike.
While 37 countries have legalized recreational or medicinal cannabis, only six countries have language in their laws that encourages or requires companies to adopt labor peace agreements, according to an EPI report.