January 12, 2024

Reps. Lee, Blumenauer Reintroduce RESPECT Resolution to Encourage Equality & Inclusion in Cannabis Industry

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-12) and Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, reintroduced the Realizing Equitable & Sustainable Participation in Emerging Cannabis Trades (RESPECT) Resolution, which encourages equity and inclusion in the growing cannabis industry.

“Cannabis equity is overdue. I am proud to reintroduce the RESPECT Resolution, which aims to elevate the importance of equity within the legal cannabis marketplace, address disparities and proactively address and repair the most egregious effects of the War on Drugs on communities of color,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Any legislation Congress puts forth on cannabis must incorporate both economic and reparative justice. This bill ensures that disenfranchised communities will be able to benefit equally in the emerging legal and regulated industry. I thank our partners for their support and Rep. Blumenauer for his continued partnership on this critical issue.”

“As more states move to legalize cannabis, the imperative for the federal government to act grows even greater. It is especially critical that legalization fully addresses the harm unleashed on communities of color. We must ensure there is equitable access to the growing multi-billion-dollar cannabis industry,” said Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

“The only way the word Justice deserves to be in the same sentence as Legalization is if the principals of the RESPECT resolution are enacted,” said Justin Strekal of Better Organizing to Win Legalization. “For too long, this country weaponized the criminalization of marijuana with surgical precision against people of color and it’s time to collectively right those past wrongs. While marijuana policy alone cannot undo the totality of the harms of systemic racism, it would be a travesty to allow cannabis reform to not include these type of reparative justice provisions.”

"As we get closer to ending our nation's disastrous experiment with cannabis prohibition, it is necessary to remain focused on making whole those who have suffered most under these harmful policies,” said Morgan Fox, Political Director of NORML. Beyond ensuring that members of disproportionately impacted communities have fair and equitable access to the opportunities created by regulated cannabis markets, we must continue to look for more ways to invest in those communities and to directly remedy the harms visited on individual cannabis consumers for past or current use."

“The war on marijuana has caused massive damage to our communities for decades. We are proud to support this resolution that both codifies the harms that have been perpetuated at home and abroad, but also outlines where we go from here, illustrating what is necessary to achieve justice and equity,” said Maritza Perez Medina of Drug Policy Alliance.

Currently, thirty states and the District of Columbia allow access to medical cannabis and nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for adult use. However, due to the economic and legal impact of racially-targeted cannabis prohibition, communities of color have largely been shut out of benefitting from legalization. It is estimated that less than 1 percent of cannabis businesses are owned by African Americans, due to application and licensing fees, bans on individuals with drug arrest and conviction histories, and severely limited access to loans and capitol for cannabis business.

This resolution was endorsed by the Drug Policy Alliance, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Better Organizing to Win Legalization (BOWL) PAC, and the Minority Cannabis Business Association