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Alliance: Prioritize Racial Justice in CT Marijuana Industry

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Friday, December 3, 2021   

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Connecticut is among several states working on what its new recreational marijuana industry will look like, and a new coalition wants to ensure racial justice will be part of it.

The Alliance for Cannabis Equity is a collaboration between ConnCORP, a community development organization, and The WorkPlace, a workforce development group.

Connecticut's recreational marijuana law also created a Social Equity Council to ensure communities of color, that have seen the disproportionate effects of the War on Drugs, have equal access to the marijuana business sector.

Carlton Highsmith, board chairman of ConnCORP, sees the Alliance as an independent group working in concert with the council.

"It would be such a shame if the intent and spirit of the law were not realized because people didn't have information," Highsmith contended. "That, I think, would be the most tragic of consequences, and that's driving us as well, to make sure that we try to be that authoritative resource guide for the community."

Gov. Ned Lamont signed the bill into law in June, making Connecticut the 19th state to legalize recreational marijuana. State regulators say they expect a full launch of the industry by the end of 2022.

One of the Alliance's first big undertakings will be to publish what it calls a "manifesto."

Joseph Carbone, president and CEO of The WorkPlace, said it will include research from other states that have already established recreational marijuana industries, to understand what has worked and what hasn't in terms of racial justice.

"Much of what we're going to do through the manifesto is to try to create the economic conditions and the social conditions that will help to make sure that the right people and the right investment entities are given a chance to do it the way in which we think the writers of the bill intended," Carbone explained.

The Alliance expects to release a draft document early in 2022 and then, host community listening sessions for feedback.


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