Pot, grass, marijuana, cannabis — call it what you will, its recreational use is already legal in 10 states and the District of Columbia, with many more soon to follow. Among other things, that means big bucks are at stake. Here in New York, Governor Cuomo is now pushing the Democratic-controlled legislature to move forward on legislation. The market is estimated at more than $3 billion.
New York City alone could see more than $300 million in taxes on top of an additional $400 million for the state. But who will benefit from this windfall? Will legislation legalization lead to corporate control and profit for a few? Or can we seize the opportunity to create a more equitable economy and even provide reparations to those largely Black and Brown people who were previously criminalized by the “war on drugs”?
Here to help us avoid getting lost in the weeds are three leading thinkers and doers in the fight for cannabis economic justice: Kassandra Frederique is the New York State director of the Drug Policy Alliance; Raybblin Vargas is a grassroots organizer on social justice campaigns and board member of the Green Worker Cooperative; and Mary Pryor is co-founder of Cannaclusive, created to facilitate fair representation of marginalized cannabis consumers.