As readers of our nitty-gritty cannabis coverage are probably aware, the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy has held a public hearing every other week since March, admirably fielding hours upon hours of testimony, from opponents and advocates alike, on 90 or so bills. They may be an inadequate bunch with far more prohibitionist adversaries than should feasibly be tapped for such a panel, but at this point they’ve at least put serious work in.
With the final hearing this Monday before the cannabis committee members return to closed chambers to stitch together whatever resulting compromise bill(s) they see suitable, Boston City Councilor and mayoral candidate Tito Jackson showed up on Beacon Hill to give his own impassioned testimony. Before a gallery of activists and lawmakers, the Roxbury pol tried to knock back some stigmas attached to cannabis.
“Not only should [convicted drug offenders] have an opportunity to work in this industry,” Jackson explained, praising the civil rights protections that are written into the current law. “They should have the opportunity to own [businesses].”
The councilor also said that lawmakers should act even further in the spirit of correcting wrongs perpetrated against communities of color, and suggested that committee members look to the example of Oakland, which has been working on an “equity permit program” that rewards convicted drug felons by putting them at the front of the line to receive medical pot industry permits.
“[The War on Drugs] has decimated communities across the state disproportionately,” he said. The position is a change for Jackson, who early on in his political career opposed the idea of a medical dispensary coming to Roxbury.
Now decidedly pro-legalization, the councilor added, “We should have the most progressive policies relative to making communities whole.” Or else only “the people who always win will end up winning again.”