A cannabis dispensary in Oregon, USA. Photo: WireStock / Alamy Stock Photo
Drug experts have this week called for more ethical cannabis markets, warning that current examples are dominated by rich, white businessmen and do not redress the harms caused by prohibition.
The International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), a global network of around 200 NGOs, has released a set of principles it hopes will “advance social justice, equity and human rights” within legal cannabis markets.
The report’s 20 key principles for creating more just cannabis industries include protecting the rights of drug users, helping people who were criminalised for their involvement in the cannabis trade to progress into the legal markets, ensuring the weed industry is a fair and equitable employer, and involving local communities.
Ann Fordham, IDPC’s Executive Director, warned: “As the momentum for cannabis regulation grows, we cannot leave the design and implementation of the new legal markets solely in the hands of private interests.”
Recreational cannabis is currently legal in Canada, ten US states and Uruguay, while medical cannabis is legal in an additional 21 US states and in around 50 countries, including the UK.
As noted here, here and here by VICE News, current legal cannabis markets are – as the IDPC warns – not doing enough to atone for harms caused by the war on drugs, nor are they doing enough to uphold rights, promote public health, protect the environment or resist being captured by corporate interests.
Launching its report, Principles for the Legal Regulation of Cannabis, the IDPC said: “Communities that have borne the brunt of the war on drugs are being excluded from these legal markets. Not only does this mean they do not benefit from these critical reforms, but these developments are serving to further entrench and exacerbate inequality.”
The report warned that Canadian corporations currently control over 70 percent of the Colombian and Uruguayan cannabis markets, while Black, indigenous and people of colour own less than 20 percent of the U.S. weed market.
“Legal regulation has the potential to become a powerful tool to redress decades of criminalisation, economic exclusion and lack of access to appropriate health care,” the report said.
“However, legal markets can also be captured by corporate interests, fail to include comprehensive measures to redress the harms brought by the ‘war on drugs’, and further criminalise people that remain in the illegal spaces inevitably persisting outside any regulated market.”