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Public Hearings and Farmers

Public Hearings and Farmers

In the state of MA, the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) was elected in September 2017, after voters legalized adult marijuana in November 2016. The job of the five-person CCC team is to regulate the new industry within the State. In October 2017, the CCC made rounds to towns and communities to hear concerns and ideas from residents on the new market. Public hearings are meetings designed for residents to voice opinions. Although a person can represent an organization or entity, the public meeting is designed so that the CCC can hear what one person at a time has to say, while the remaining public also respectfully listens. Residents voiced their opinions on a range of concerns and ideas. We heard from Ph.D. holders, medical marijuana patients, child educators, social justice activist, business people, and farmers alike. The most unified concept was the right to craft growing. The idea of craft cannabis breaks down any movement of a statewide monopoly or duopoly and opens doors for more skilled and cared for grows.
In Worcester, there was a tremendous voice for farmers and craft cannabis. As marijuana has become legal across the nation, farmers have been left out of the equation due to the best interest of big business. The legalization of marijuana continues to grow due to the medical community, funded by private financial institutions. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of at least 113 active cannabinoids identified in cannabis. CBD is most known for its non-psychoactive medicinal applications. Before being deemed illegal, cannabis hemp crops were grown by farmers and used for medicinal purposes and in many other industries such as textile and printing.
So why would regulators leave farmers out across legal medical marijuana states? Because of big industries like alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and tobacco. In states like Florida, farmers will participate in growing marijuana due to lower agricultural state regulations. Many farming entities both large and small in America are still family owned. If a family owns a farm, private financial institutions have less control and make less money. Private corporate business is why we see indoor, commercial and industrial grows. These types of cultivation environments try to mimic natural social and agricultural power.
More than 92 percent of the country’s 2.1 million farmers are non-Hispanic whites, and more than 86 percent of those farm operators are men. In many southern states, like Florida, black farmers have a history of systemic discrimination. For many years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture purposely discriminated against black farmers through lending practices which led to a class-action lawsuit, known as “Pigford I,” filed in 1981. A second lawsuit, called “Pigford II,” was finally settled on $1.3 billion by a federal judge in 2011. And while minorities were getting denied opportunities, they were also deliberately arrested far more than whites, even though statistically, whites use marijuana just as much. 
Relating to the public hearings in MA, a group of farmers disgruntledly spoke, expressing licensing concerns in the profitable industry. One farmer went as far as suggesting provisional licenses for farmers. The idea behind her request was an offshoot of a minority initiative the state of MA has within the role out of Marijuana Industry. The effort hopes to help build communities affected by marijuana arrest. And in Florida, regulators also have a minority initiative by carving out 1 of 10 licenses for black farmers while blacks make up over 20% of the state population. In Florida, Massachusetts and across the nation, blacks have a disproportionate rate of arrest for marijuana.
Will these individual state provisions be enough for social justice? Whos ideas are these and are they meaningful?
Aside from social justice, farming, and big business, education for children is barely a topic amongst the industry. Let’s be honest, although the legal age to consume marijuana is 21, kids can get their hands on weed before their bat mitzvah or quinceañera starts. Marijuana helps people, but it also has harmed minorities. Studies have shown that too much THC at a young age can hinder brain development, while CBD can restore brain cells for all ages. The truth about the plant’s rich history will help shape the future. And as adults, we must be honest with younger generations.

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