Barriers to entry into the marijuana space are collapsing

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Lawmakers are helping to make sure marijuana revenue makes it to where it needs to go

There are two subjects that go hand in hand – marijuana reform and criminal justice reform. It’s a proven fact that certain communities across the country have repeatedly been targeted as possible drug havens, which has prevented them from being able to prosper. Certain demographics have also been targeted and they, too, have had a more difficult time when it comes to finding legitimate assistance. Fortunately, though, politicians are realizing that mistakes have been made and are helping to correct those mistakes when new marijuana policies are written or amendments added.

In many instances, states are now requiring certain criminal records cleared of previous low- to medium-level offenses, especially those tied to marijuana possession. Until now, having a record with a marijuana conviction has prevented access to a number of benefits, including banking, housing subsidies, education and employment. It has also prevented those individuals from gaining access to valuable financial programs that would help them launch their own businesses or become part of the growing marijuana industry.

In addition to records being expunged, some states are completely doing away with convictions for marijuana convictions, making it no more dangerous than littering and applying fines to those who get caught. This is not only helping reduce the barriers, but it is also freeing up valuable law enforcement resources that can be better used elsewhere stopping actual crimes.

According to the commissioner of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, Shaleen Title, the efforts are paying off. She explained in a recent interview with Cheddar, “We recently approved our first license to a general applicant (not a medical dispensary or economic empowerment applicant), and it was a business owned by a woman. She didn’t have any special priority; she just managed to get through the process first. To me, that’s a sign we are well on our way to creating an accessible pathway.”