On all Groundworks websites in the next few weeks new logos proclaiming our company sponsorship and support of the Oregon Cannabis Equity Act are appearing. Now introduced as HB 3112, the bill is backed by a strong coalition of legislators, cannabis companies, organizations like the NuLeaf Project, Urban League of Portland, and many more. We at Groundworks are proud to be among the lead sponsors and have contributed both funds and staff time for this effort.
The bill contains four major provisions:
Creates the Cannabis Equity Fund to invest tax dollars directly in housing, job training and placement, small business support, child-care, health care and more in the Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities, the communities disproportionately harmed by over-policing and cannabis criminalization.
Free, automatic expungement of eligible cannabis criminal convictions paid for by the Cannabis Equity Fund as needed. Under existing OR legislation, less than 200 people have had cannabis crimes expunged although 28,000 eligible cannabis crimes are on record.
Equity licenses for Black-, Indigenous-, and Latina/o/x-owned cannabis companies with reduced fees and increased capital and technical support. Provides for funding of OLCC positions to aid in the licensure process and includes the addition of three license types beneficial for the small business owner.
Creates a governing body to drive transparency and accountability of Cannabis Equity Funds and directs fund spending to solutions that best meet Black, Indigenous, and Latinx community equity needs.
“We have a chance this session to repair some of the harm done on communities and people from cannabis criminalization. We’ve done a good job of eliminating crimes and reducing the numbers of people being charged. But there are 28,000 people and communities across the state that still suffer from the effects of over-policing and over-arrest for simple cannabis use in our communities,” said Geoff Sugerman, GW’s Chief Compliance Officer. “This bill moves us the next step forward in actually repairing the lives of these people and these communities using cannabis tax dollars.”
Introduced by a long list of sponsors including Rep. Janelle Bynum, Rep. Ricki Ruiz, Rep. Karin Power, Rep. Julie Fahey, Sen. Lew Frederick, Sen Kayse Jama, Rep. Pam Marsh and Rep. Maxine Dexter, the bill will now move to the House Judiciary Committee where a hearing is expected within the next two weeks.
“We’ve seen the harm to far too many families to not address this issue. Cannabis convictions bring challenges that ripple through families and cause hardship for the children of children whose parents were disproportionately arrested. The loss of jobs, education grants, housing and more that can all stem from a minor cannabis conviction have impacted communities of color for generations. Today Oregon has the chance to undo some of that harm,” said Jeannette Ward Horton, executive director of NuLeaf Project and a leader in the coalition to pass HB 3112.
Chief Sponsor and State Rep. Ricki Ruiz said fixing the expungement process is a critical piece of the legislation.
“Less than 200 out of 28,000 Oregonians eligible for expungement were able to successfully complete the process in the past two years. We need to do better,” said Ruiz. “This bill provides us the path and the funding we need to efficiently remove previous cannabis crimes from people’s records and provide them the opportunity to repair their lives from the harm caused by cannabis criminalization. It is a critical step toward restoring the health of these individuals and the communities where they reside.”
For more information on HB 3112, or to endorse the effort, visit cannabisequityoregon.com.