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Resolution

NAACP Supports Access to Banking for Licensed and Regulated Cannabis Businesses, With Fair Terms and Rates for Black-owned Social Equity Licensed Cannabis Businesses, and Will Continue to Fight for Restorative Justice

WHEREAS, despite progress in reforming cannabis laws in states across the country and the fact that 43 states and U.S. territories have medical cannabis laws, a disproportionate number of African-American adults continue to be subjected to arrests, imprisonment, and other punishments related to cannabis. For example, the American Civil Liberties Union reported in 2020 that African Americans are 3.64 times as likely to be arrested for cannabis possession despite using cannabis at approximately the same rate as the white population; and

WHEREAS, in 2019, the NAACP passed a resolution in support of decriminalizing the possession of cannabis and regulation of the medical- and adult-use cannabis industry; and

WHEREAS, in that 2019 resolution, the NAACP recognized that states with medical- and adult-use laws are generating billions of dollars in sales and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, but not generating enough economic opportunities for African Americans despite the disproportionate enforcement of drug laws against the community; and

WHEREAS, in 2021, the NAACP passed a resolution called "Economic Equality in Support of the Cannabis Industry," in which it reaffirmed its support for the decriminalization of cannabis and the pardoning of persons previously convicted of non-violent cannabis crimes, and demanding greater African-American ownership and employment opportunities in the cannabis industry; and

WHEREAS, despite the expansion of medical- and adult-use cannabis laws across the country,  5.7% of federal prosecutions for drug offenses in 2021 involved cannabis, and 43% of state drug arrests in 2018 involved cannabis; and

WHEREAS, the federal prohibition on cannabis currently restricts banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions in their ability to lend, invest in, or provide services to regulated businesses in the cannabis industry; and

WHEREAS, only 15 states with medical- and adult-use cannabis laws have social equity programs to support underrepresented or disadvantaged entrepreneurs seeking to enter the industry; and,

WHEREAS, federal prohibition is causing a lack of access to banking and hamstringing efforts in states with social equity programs to provide licenses and economic opportunities to cannabis entrepreneurs from disadvantaged communities; and

WHEREAS, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would protect financial institutions from liability for providing services to licensed cannabis businesses in states with medical- and adult-use laws, has passed the U.S. House of Representatives with broad bipartisan support on seven separate occasions; and

WHEREAS, the SAFE Banking Act could enable cannabis businesses with social equity licenses, diverse ownership licenses, or other licenses made available by states with medical- and adult-use cannabis laws that aim to foster a diverse and equitable industry, to better compete in the industry if it was coupled with the federal descheduling of marijuana and explicitly provided for fair terms and rates for Black-owned and social equity licensed cannabis businesses; and

WHEREAS, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which would end federal prohibition by descheduling marijuana, expunge and resentence cannabis convictions, reinvest cannabis tax revenue in social services and Small Business Administration opportunities for communities most impacted by cannabis prohibition, and end the collateral consequences associated with a marijuana arrest or conviction such as loss of federal benefits, a federal security clearance, and immigration rights, has passed the U.S. House of Representatives with bipartisan support on two separate occasions.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the NAACP reaffirms its 2021 resolution calling for greater economic opportunities for African Americans in the growing cannabis industry.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP reaffirms its 2019 resolution in support of decriminalizing the possession of cannabis and regulation of a medical- and adult-use cannabis industry.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP supports the immediate passage of legislation to provide access to banking services with fair terms and rates for Black-owned and social equity licensed cannabis businesses.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP supports comprehensive legislation that provides for individual remedies for those who have been arrested for or convicted of marijuana possession or sale, including release from incarceration and automatic pardon and expungement of records.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP calls for Congress to remove cannabis from the list of federal controlled substances and provide federal grants to states seeking to implement social equity programs with entrepreneurship opportunities and job creation in the cannabis industry, particularly for low-income individuals and people of color from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana arrests and prosecutions.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the NAACP units will continue to advocate at the local, state, and federal level that marijuana reform legislation must include reparative measures for communities by advocating for legislation that deschedules marijuana, expunges and resentences marijuana convictions, ends the collateral consequences of marijuana arrests and convictions, ensures equal access to business licenses in the marijuana industry, and invests in communities that have been harmed by federal drug laws.

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