Originally published June 3, 2020
The individual contributors to this blog are horrified by the death of George Floyd and dismayed by the pain and destruction in our communities. We want to acknowledge this incredibly trying moment happening in our country right now. Even though we write professionally on a daily basis, we found it difficult to express ourselves in this situation because it’s difficult to know where to even begin. For us, the core principle is justice. As Cornel West said: “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”
So as individual attorneys we didn’t want this moment, like so many other similar moments in history before it, to pass without saying something and, more importantly, without actually doing something. Not speaking and not reacting is often the easier and safer choice, personally and professionally, but it will not lead to the change each of us wants to see. We believe the time for change, particularly in our criminal justice system, is overdue. For years the African American community has been saying—clearly and repeatedly and in many different ways—that it is systemically and disproportionately mistreated without the ability to seek redress. Everyone needs to listen and reflect on that message regardless of the conclusions they may reach. Our nation must deliver on the promise of equal protection under the law and justice for all people.
This notion is what attracted us to the cannabis industry in the first place—it is complex and the embodiment of the crossroads we are at as a nation. This industry recognizes more than any other that minor arrests like marijuana possession have disproportionately impacted the black community with far-reaching effects. Legalization of cannabis brings with it so much potential. And this new industry is unlike any other because it can be shaped and molded by the principles of social equity, with empowerment and criminal justice reform as its driving force. But it is a delicate balance that requires more than hope and optimism, it must be handled with consciousness from all participants and it must be nurtured.
On a broader scale, it feels like we’ve lost our balance and are working to find our footing again. We sincerely want this time to be different and for this tragedy not to have been in vain. So the individual authors of this blog are choosing to not only speak, but to act. As part of our call to action, each of us is committing our own personal financial resources to support agencies that seek to address social equity issues through the cannabis business community: the Minority Cannabis Business Association (https://minoritycannabis.org), My Block My Hood My City (https://www.formyblock.org/) Small Business Relief Fund, and Chicago NORML (https://www.chicagonorml.org). Each of us is also renewing our own personal commitment, consistent with our professional responsibility, to continue to provide pro bono legal services to social equity individuals/groups in the cannabis industry. We emphasize our own personal commitments in order to hold ourselves accountable as individuals, and not as a law firm. This is not an empty promise—it is a call to action! So if you or someone you know is in need of such services, please contact us directly.
We appreciate our readers very much. We hope you are all staying safe!