Feds Need To Catch Up On Marijuana, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Says (Op-Ed)

Feds Need To Catch Up On Marijuana, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Says (Op-Ed)
MJ moment

“We need federal and equitable legalization of cannabis so that no one is left behind.” By Nikki Fried, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Four years ago, when I was running for the office I hold now, two major U.S. banks shut down my campaign accounts over my advocacy for medical marijuana patients and the state-legal cannabis industry in Florida. As a majority of states had enacted some sort of legal cannabis programs by that time—with California’s medical marijuana program dating back to 1996 and Floridians overwhelmingly voting to legalize medical marijuana in 2016—these actions seemed archaic in 2018. Unfortunately, four years later, cannabis legalization has yet to come to fruition on the federal level. During this same time, public support for the end of decades-long prohibition continues to grow as does the state-legal industry. But the existing discrepancies between state and federal cannabis policies is creating a system of winners and losers, stifling economic opportunity, punishing patients and allowing the inequities created by the failed War on Drugs to continue to wreak havoc on Black, Brown and low-income communities. Everyone knows that legalization is inevitable. But while these discrepancies between federal and state law continue to exist, we have tens of thousands of people—the majority of which are persons of color—sitting in jail right now who even upon release will face barriers to gainful employment, housing access and access to capital due to nonviolent minor drug charges. We have medical marijuana patients who are losing eligibility for good-paying jobs and unable to qualify for certain kinds of housing. We have veterans suffering from PTSD and other service-related injuries unable to access medical marijuana through the VA. We have cannabis entrepreneurs and businesses who cannot utilize the financial services system. I for one am tired of waiting on the sidelines while these harmful…

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