As the State of Missouri Legalises Marijuana, Regulators Develop a New Role: Executive in Charge of Weed’s Fairness

As the State of Missouri Legalises Marijuana, Regulators Develop a New Role: Executive in Charge of Weed's Fairness

Voters in Missouri approved a constitutional amendment in November to legalise recreational marijuana, but the issue of racial and economic fairness has split social justice groups.

While some feel the new law would help minorities in the cannabis industry, others are concerned it will further entrench an unfair licencing system.

The state agency in charge of monitoring the marijuana programme, the Department of Health and Human Services, has a major decision to make when choosing the chief equity officer.

The state must have a chief equity officer for the marijuana programme in place by February 6th, as mandated by the state legislature. This post is intended to guarantee that the social and economic justice provisions of the new marijuana law in Missouri are carried out.

A representative from DHSS indicated that the department would shortly name its chief equity officer.

Lisa Cox, a spokesperson for DHSS, said that the department advertised the position on MO Careers, the state’s official job listing website, from November 29 to December 9.

According to what Cox has indicated, “our roles post for 10 days externally and internally.” “We also frequently have our job postings picked up and posted on LinkedIn and Indeed.” It will soon be announced that we have completed our process.

The chief equity officer is a high-ranking position at the Division of Cannabis Regulation in Missouri, per the job listing.

The job advertisement claims that the officer “will exercise significant freedom while simultaneously working closely with other teams within the division” and will report directly to the division director.

The chief equity officer will be in charge of the micro license programme that will increase chances in the industry for firms in disadvantaged communities, which proponents of legalisation claim to be the first of its type in the country.

As the State of Missouri Legalises Marijuana, Regulators Develop a New Role: Executive in Charge of Weed's Fairness

The officer is responsible for directing programme communication and conducting reviews “to certify microbusinesses are eligible candidates and in good standing for licensure.”

This individual will also develop and disseminate instructional programming about the micro business licencing procedure and relevant resources.

He or she will “create targeted technical support programming to communities impacted by cannabis prohibition” and produce an annual report on enforcement.

The head of the NAACP chapter in St. Louis, Missouri, Adolphus Pruitt, was among those who advocated for a chief equity officer position to be established during the legalisation movement.

Pruitt claimed he didn’t know how many people applied for the position after the NAACP advertised it.

Pruitt emphasised that one of the officer’s primary duties is to compile “aggregate statistics for each sort of licence” for a yearly report.

According to him, this is a promising next step toward achieving minority inclusion targets in the Missouri cannabis business.

The state would be one step closer to considering racial diversity in the licence application process if the report included the demographic characteristics of business owners and their employees, as Pruitt has suggested.

However, Missouri needs to conduct a “disparity study” to avoid legal challenges, typically brought by white-owned enterprises. Pruitt claimed that the aggregate data will perform the same function as a disparity analysis.

Pruitt said in a November interview with The Independent, “Without having data, there ain’t much we can do.” We’ll lose in court if the state passes [minority participation] targets without evidence. Yes, we’ve been there and done that before.

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