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Resolution on Cannabis Equity Legislation

January 20, 2022

WHEREAS, the failed War on Drugs created disproportionate rates of criminalization, incarceration, poverty, income inequality, and barriers to employment, housing, public services, and education for BIPOC communities, particularly Black communities.  

WHEREAS, Black people make up 18% of Washington’s incarcerated population, many charged with marijuana-related crimes, but only comprise 4% of the state’s population. Prior to and after the legalization of recreational Cannabis, Washington disproportionately arrests people of color, particularly Black people, under marijuana filings, even though white people use and sell marijuana at equal rates. 

WHEREAS, Seattle must lead in instituting fair taxation, through the Cannabis Equity Tax, to fund community programs addressing fallouts from the War on Drugs, allocated by communities most affected, and encourage greater levels of workforce development and protection for Cannabis workers.  

WHEREAS, BIPOC are less likely to financially benefit from the Cannabis industry, business owners must be compelled to invest in a more diverse workforce with greater worker protections. To create a more equitable industry, the Cannabis Equity Tax will include provisions to compel Cannabis business owners to hire and invest in employees from working class communities. The city will also encourage greater transparency of Cannabis businesses to ensure that workers can enforce their rights.  

WHEREAS, the distribution of the Cannabis Equity Tax should partly be determined through a Cannabis Equity Commission, comprised of individuals representing communities affected by the War on Drugs, workforce development representatives, and invested Cannabis business owners. 

WHEREAS, working people and UFCW 21 have a stake in addressing the glaring inequity of Cannabis. The labor movement must fight for immediate expungement of drug-related charges, a more equitable investment of Cannabis profits into BIPOC communities, and protection of workers’ rights and workforce development in a growing industry.  

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the MLK Labor Council affirms and endorses legislation that UFCW 21 has been working on to include in the Seattle Municipal Code Section 14, relating to the Cannabis Equity Tax. The legislation will also include safety and compliance training provided to new employees and applicants meeting Equity criteria. This training will be provided by a qualified training partnership.  

AND BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the MLK Labor council will support and help lobby Seattle City Council to pass this legislation.  

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