As the nation’s opinion on marijuana continues to transform, the NAACP has chosen to join the progressive wave of support with its recent advocacy for cannabis reform. The organization has put out a new call to protect the rights of workers in the burgeoning industry, to further ensure equity and economic justice for all citizens.
1. NAACP Reiterates Support for Cannabis Legalization
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is championing the legalization of cannabis, highlighting the cannabis industry’s potential to become a major driver of economic growth. The organization has joined forces with a number of organizations advocating for marijuana legalization in order to create a more equitable society.
During a virtual NAACP town hall, the organization’s leaders reiterated its support for cannabis legalization, calling it the “passport to economic success” for minority communities. The NAACP is advocating for policies that ensure minority businesses and buyers are not disadvantaged with the introduction of the new cannabis industry. The organization plans to bring together leaders in the cannabis industry to address industry challenges and promote more inclusive policies.
- Family Benefits:The NAACP argued that cannabis legalization could lead to safer, more affordable access to medical cannabis treatments, as well as more jobs, which would help close gaping development gaps between minority and white communities.
- Economic Potential: The organization also highlighted the economic potential of the cannabis industry, which could create more jobs and help to diversify the economy.
2. The Push for Cannabis Worker’s Rights
As the cannabis industry continues to grow, the demand for worker’s rights is increasing. In many states, cannabis has been legalized for medical and/or recreational use, but not without regulations and taxes. One of the main issues impacting workers in this emerging industry is the lack of labor rights.
Cannabis employees are not protected by the federal employment laws that apply to most other sectors. This means no entitlement to a minimum wage, overtime pay, sick days, or medical benefits. It is a risky job for employees who are vulnerable to volatile economic conditions and job insecurity. That is why many advocates are pushing for the establishment of federal level protections for all cannabis workers.
- Fair wages: Secure a livable wage for cannabis workers by ensuring they receive the minimum wage and overtime pay.
- Employment security: Protect cannabis employees from unfair terminations without cause and provide guidelines for employee disputes.
- Health and safety: Provide guidelines and regulations on pesticide exposure, worker safety, and access to medical benefits.
- Restrictive Covenants: Establish rules for restrictive work covenants to ensure workers are free to move between different cannabis businesses without retribution.
The future of cannabis relies heavily on the commitment to the safety and security of its workers. A powerful set of employment rights and standards must be implemented to protect cannabis workers from mistreatment, and to ensure they can access the benefits they deserve.
3. Steps to Ensure A Fair Cannabis Industry
Many states are quickly legalizing cannabis across the country – a huge step in increasing accessibility and reducing stigma. But the emerging cannabis industry isn’t perfect – there is still much work to be done to ensure a fair and equitable industry. Here are some steps that can help ensure justice and safety in the cannabis industry.
Level the Playing Field: As more states legalize, more and more businesses will spring up – in the form of dispensaries, delivery services, and more. While this is great for consumers, competition can be difficult for smaller businesses looking to make a name for themselves. To combat this, some states are offering grants and subsidies to small businesses, allowing them to compete with large corporations. Offering tax incentives and reduced financial thresholds can also encourage more entrepreneurs to enter the industry.
Protect Consumers: The safety of cannabis consumers should always be a priority. Laws should be frequently updated to ensure that products are well-regulated and meet safety standards. Having informative labeling, testing products for contaminants, and staying up-to-date on new products are important measures that can safeguard the industry and protect the consumer. Additionally, cannabis employers should ensure that their staff is well-trained and knowledgeable in order to provide customers with the best experience possible.
- Level the Playing Field
- Protect Consumers
4. Reimagining Cannabis Equity and Inclusion
- Strive for Structural Change: While an increase in visibility and representation of marginalized communities in the cannabis market is a welcome sign of progress, the only way for true equity and inclusion to be achieved is through a critical shift in policy and systematic change. Legislatures should prioritize the elevation of communities that have been historically excluded from the industry, by creating investment opportunities, providing assistance to open businesses, and addressing underlying legal barriers.
- Promote Diversity in Representation: Truly inclusive efforts aimed at level the playing field for those affected by the War on Drugs should extend to the cannabis industry. The governing bodies of cannabis must take active steps to ensure everyone has a seat at the table–promoting racial and gender diversity in boardrooms and executive offices, as well as hiring for diversity of experience and viewpoints in all roles.
The NAACP’s renewed support for marijuana legalization shows us that cannabis industry workers will be better protected once legalization passes. The organization’s call for protection of cannabis industry workers’ rights is a major step forward for advocacy and awareness of the benefits of marijuana legalization. By pushing for fair labor rights in the cannabis industry, the NAACP is paving the way for a more equitable and safe industry for everyone.