U.S. drug experts have advised the UK to recruit ex-drug dealers if recreational cannabis is legalised. Shaleen Title, the Commissioner in charge of legal cannabis sales in Massachusetts has said that the UK should follow the lead of U.S. states, in recruiting former black-market drug dealers and training individuals from communities heavily involved in the underground cannabis market where legal cannabis reduced crime.
Title is one of five Commissioners on the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, an agency that is responsible for regulating legal and medical marijuana in the commonwealth. Massachusetts became one of the first east coast states to fully legalize recreational cannabis in 2016.
Ahead of Westminster talks this week, Title and two other U.S. drug liberalisation experts revealed their new project to recruit and re-train former black market weed dealers to transition into the legal cannabis industry. They were guests of the Transform Drugs Policy Foundation, which have been prominent campaigners for the legalisation of cannabis in the UK.
Cannabis is now legal in some capacity in over 30 U.S. states, including the District of Columbia. However, drug reform activists have been vocal about the fact that the ‘legitimate' cannabis industry remains overwhelmingly white, while people of colour make up the majority of individuals incarcerated for marijuana-related offences.
Amid the growing legalisation of recreational cannabis New York., states like Illinois and California have also made efforts to integrate communities that were previously targeted by the war on drugs into the legitimate cannabis market.
In conversation with the Guardian, Title stated “If for years under cannabis drug prohibition you have this security focus on these communities then after legalisation you can hardly say to them, ‘oh never mind now, big corporations will take this business off you, they will take it from here.’ How is that fair?”
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