After Missed Census Tract Mapping Deadline, First Meeting of Connecticut Cannabis Social Equity Council Concludes With Action Taken On Identifying Areas Of Disproportionate Impact and Establishment of Subcommittees
Jason Ortiz, the Executive Director of Students For Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), speaking to me in an interview Thursday afternoon following the conclusion of the hearing said of the map, “[w]hile it’s definitely odd to approve something as important as the DIA map while not having a full council, I’m excited to see my community included in this tremendous opportunity. It’s a long hill to climb but you climb a mountain one step at a time and this is a step forward.”
The release of the map, after the initial missed deadline, will obviously go a long way when it comes to rebuilding trust with a grassroots advocacy community long since jaded to the tactics of corporate subversion and the prevailing patterns of the political doldrums alike.
Going forward, as the Social Equity Council continues its work, some advocates say more work needs to be done to ensure full participation in the emerging adult use market by those most harmed by the drug war.
Christina Capitan, a Cannabis Community Advocate, told me after Thursday's hearing that she saw potential unintended consequences of the current formula for identifying those most harmed by prohibition;
"I am grateful that many negatively effected by cannabis prohibition in our communities will become eligible to engage in this industry...I am however concerned with the way these disproportionately effected communities are being identified through census tract..I have a feeling too many will be left out. I also have great concern for those who have faced legal issues, lost many opportunities and even had their families lives torn apart by bad laws still not being included as potential equity applicants."
Shawn Wooden, the State Treasurer and an Ex-Officio member of the Council, said at today's hearing of the proposed DIA map that, because any changes to the criteria set forth in the statute would require legislative approval -- something that could take upwards of a year -- he was, like the Chairperson, "weary of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good" and thus cast his vote in support.
The Social Equity Council will continue to hold public meetings going forward, including via ad-hoc committees, and a provisional schedule was drafted at the conclusion of the meeting.
By: Grant Smith Ellis
Thu 5 Aug 2021 2:30PM ET