Black and Hispanic caucuses discuss allowing medical marijuana

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A series of events held last week highlighted cannabis legalization

Several groups comprised of Hispanic and black members of Congress participated in panels last week centering on several marijuana issues. The discussions were designed to explore the impact of legalized cannabis, including economic and public health impacts, criminal justice and policies. As marijuana continues to climb among the list of topics discussed on Capitol Hill, pressure is now being put on lawmakers by their constituents to further expand marijuana legalization across the country, as well as on a federal level

Last Wednesday, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute led a discussion that explored several marijuana-related subjects. The panel included Representatives Louisiana’s Cedric Richmond and California’s Lou Correa, who discussed, “marijuana policies, entrepreneurial opportunities, public health risks, and more,” according to the discussion’s website.

NORML Oregon Executive Director Madeline Martinez was on hand for the discussion, saying that it was “an amazing honor to be included.”

On Wednesday, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHC) held a panel exploring the criminal justice, economic and public health aspects of cannabis legalization, which featured Reps. Lou Correa (D-CA) and Cedric Richmond (D-LA). Experts discussed “marijuana policies, entrepreneurial opportunities, public health risks, and more,” according to the event’s website.

Madeline Martinez, executive director of NORML Oregon, spoke at the session and wrote in a Facebook post that it “was an amazing honor to be included.” She said after the event, “As an activist who has been at the forefront of the reform movement for 20 years, it was a privilege to join my fellow Latinos at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute to strategize solutions to towards solving the moral and economic failures of the war on drugs and crafting solutions that put minorities and those most affected by the war in the front of the line to reap the benefits of legalization.”

It’s worthy to point out that the event had a notable sponsor. The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsible, a drunk driving prevention organization that is supported by several large liquor corporations, was behind the panel.

On Thursday, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Foundation conducted its own discussion on marijuana. “The Black Experience In Cannabis” was designed to focus on civic engagement and issues surrounding community outreach programs.

There was another panel held on Friday by the CBC Foundation. It was hosted by California Representative Barbara Lee and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, and addressed issues related to social equity and race within the marijuana industry.

Both the CHC and the CBC have been behind a push to legalize marijuana, to some degree, on a federal level. While they’re up against some stiff competition, they have already shown that they have the combined strength to influence policy and will continue to work to shape marijuana laws from the very top of the government, through the smallest region in the country.