Joint Letter to Governor Phill Scott,
Today we come to you as Vermonters, BIPOC and women owned small business owners, racial justice activists, parents and longtime cannabis cultivators. We urge you to sign and support S.54.
We aren’t large corporations. We are everyday Vermonters - growers and working families for 30+ years - who have never diverted from our mission of providing medicine to all who need it.
We have been aware of the opposition to S.54 by organizations such as the Vermont Growers Association for quite some time. Their interest in social justice is disingenuous, misplaced, and not progressive. Giving opportunities to people of color is one of the most concrete and actionable ways to combat racial inequity; this can be done by creating a regulated adult-use market in our state.
In February of 2019, Dave Silberman, Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform, Peace & Justice Center, Middlebury Chapter Black Lives Matter of Greater Burlington, and the NAACP presented the Senate Judiciary Committee a set of specific policy requests to ensure that S.54 worked to reverse the disproportionate impact prohibition has had on communities of color. They were able to include a section in the bill - Section 903 - which accomplished their goals and addresses all their social justice concerns.
S.54 also provides Vermont cultivators and business owners the opportunity to become involved in the cannabis industry. It keeps big cannabis companies out of Vermont by not allowing horizontal integration, and it makes a great start towards prioritizing a role in the industry for people of color, and those historically disadvantaged by the war on cannabis.
Some of the specific provisions which accomplish these goals are:
The Cannabis Control Board must prioritize applicants who are minority or women owned as well as have plans to recruit and promote people of color, women, and those impacted by cannabis prohibition.
- This alone supports people of color, women, and those impacted by prohibition directly.
Each applicant can only hold one of each type of license, at one location.
- This provision prevents large corporations from taking over our state.
The Board must consider policies to promote small-scale cultivators.
Small cultivator licenses must be prioritized over large cultivators.
- These provisions also support small scale cultivators.
Even more significantly, S.54 also gives the governor a huge amount of influence over the composition of the Cannabis Control Board. If you are truly concerned about social justice in the Vermont cannabis industry, the bill offers an excellent platform for you to appoint Cannabis Control Board members who will be well versed in and sensitive to these issues.
Governor if, as you stated in the gubernatorial debate, you are prioritizing racial justice, we hope you will support S.54.
Meredith Mann, Magic Mann
Tito Bern, Bern Gallery
Noah and Marlena Fishman, Zenbarn Farms
Arantha Farrow, Caledonia Cannabis
Jane and Ben Lanza, This Family Tree