Several bills have been introduced in the Rhode Island House to open up opportunities in the marijuana industry to minorities. The lawmakers note that minorities have been hurt by marijuana prohibition. Governor Raimondo still wants lawmakers to legalize recreational marijuana.
H5795, known as the Rhode Island Cannabis Act, seeks to provide grants to those in poorer communities that have suffered from prohibition and marijuana prosecution, according to the Providence Journal. If adopted, the “financial aid” would be from waiving some fees and lowering the costs of permits and licenses. Minorities wanting to enter the marijuana industry would also have assistance in finding appropriate locations for their businesses and help with finding viable investors.
If someone seeking assistance has a prior marijuana conviction that is no longer a crime in the state, that criminal conviction could be eligible for expungement. Those that were previously sentenced to jail may be able to have all marijuana business fees waived.
The chief sponsor of the bill is Marcia Ranglin-Vassell. She says that the goal of the bill is to help the “most harmed by cannabis criminalization and poverty be offered assistance to enter the multi-billion dollar cannabis industry as entrepreneurs or employees with high quality, well-paying jobs.”
Another bill, H6073 would implement a loan program that would be overseen by the Department of Business Regulation to help those in disproportionately affected areas to have access to entering the marijuana industry.