As the cannabis industry continues to grow, a debate is brewing over whether those with drug convictions should be allowed in the industry. Cannabis businesses are in a position of uncertainty amid U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' anti-drug rhetoric. Meanwhile, the fast-growing, multi-billion-dollar industry is drawing investors and entrepreneurs.
Indeed, there is a hypocrisy evident in some corners of the newly legal cannabis market. Earlier this year, Massachusetts medical cannabis provider Patriot Care drew controversy after it opposed a proposal to remove the ban on felony drug convictions from the state's medical cannabis program.
Many states have cannabis laws that bar drug offenders from entering the cannabis industry in an effort to legitimize the trade and help prevent out-of-state diversion. In practice, the ban does not prevent trafficking. But it does shut out individuals with cannabis-related convictions, who are disproportionately black and Latino. And in a twist of absurdity, many of these felony bans apply only to drug-related crimes.