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Minority Cannabis Business Association stands with protestors in fight to end racist police murders of black and brown people

An influential group of voices from the cannabis sent a message of solidarity to protestors following another day of global demonstrations against police brutality in America that began when an African American man, George Floyd, was murdered in Minnesota by police officer Derek Chauvin. On Monday, the Minority Cannabis Business Association released a statement in support of the movement, stating their desire to see an end to state-sanctioned murders of black and brown people at the hands of racist law enforcement officials.

The mostly peaceful demonstrations continued again on Tuesday, with police forces across the nation once again using heavy-handed, often violent tactics to quell protestor’s right to assemble. In New York City, a large crowd of people attempting to cross the Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn were trapped in a tense standoff with the NYPD before things ended without incident a few hours later. 

Demonstrations spread beyond big cities on Tuesday night, too, moving into small towns and suburbs throughout the nation. Hoover, Alabama, sent 50 officers in SWAT gear to arrest 14 high school students who were quietly protesting at a local field, an excessive show of force from an over-militarized police department.

But in some cities, there were signs that progress, however small, was being made. Earlier this week, demonstrators in Philadelphia rallied around a statue of former mayor Frank Rizzo, a gruff, law-and-order type known for harassing the Black Panthers and using overt racism to rule the city with an iron fist. For years, calls to remove the statue have fallen on deaf ears, but city officials finally complied on Tuesday morning.

“The statue represented bigotry, hatred, and oppression for too many people, for too long,” said current Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney in an early morning Tweet. “It is finally gone.” Kenney had been accused for years of wavering on the subject in an attempt to mollify both sides of the issue. 

As demonstrators continue to show, police brutality is a deeply personal issue for so many in the black community. According to the statement put out by the MCBA, many of their members have been targeted by law enforcement because of the color of their skin, The racially-charged power structures that create inequality in black communities and stand at the base of the drug war have placed MCBA members in dangerous situations, not unlike those that took the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others.

“The war on drugs, predominantly waged against black and brown men, destroys the social fabric of our communities and prevents a life of liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” wrote the MCBA in their statement. “As a key weapon of the war on drugs, marijuana prohibition has led to black Americans being almost four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as our white counterparts and remains one of the top reasons for police interactions with our community, which can too often become a death sentence.”

As a non-profit organization founded in late 2015, the Minority Cannabis Business Association seeks to serve the needs of all minorities in the cannabis space, including entrepreneurs, employees, and patients and consumers. Led by the current board President Jason Ortiz, and populated with a diverse group of men and women from across the industry, their mission is to promote economic empowerment to communities of color by building a better cannabis industry and combating the War on Drugs.

Although members of the MCBA were unavailable for comment, they noted that the current situation in America is untenable. “We must implement a bold and comprehensive program focused on uplifting our communities,” they wrote. “Without this, we will continue to bring this system to a halt.”

Going beyond the public relations platitudes that most of the cannabis industry has succumbed to over the past few days, the MCBA made solid recommendations for social and racial justice that stakeholders of all backgrounds can follow. Most prominently, the organization noted that all officers who target black Americans from a place of racial animus need to be held accountable, while the country needs to demilitarize all police departments and shift those public dollars to social services.

They also called for an end to the War on Drugs and the criminalization of black and brown bodies that it creates and for the cannabis industry to make good on its promises of social equity for all.

Allies to the cause can help as well. As per the MCBA’s statement, white communities can help by donating to bail funds and supporting Minorities for Medical Marijuana’s petition for George Floyd, among other things. They offered a shortlist of ways the legal community can serve too.

Importantly, the MCBA printed a great list of guidelines for anyone who plans to take part in any of the demonstrations going on across the country, offering tips on what to do if confronted by law enforcement or attacked with teargas or pepper spray. The complete list can be found here, as it gives everyone an important place to begin if they are looking to further the cause.

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