As we move along with the changing landscape of cannabis legalization and normalization in the United States, it is critical that we not just acknowledge the harms endured by, but also work towards restorative justice for those communities who have been most impacted by the racist criminalization of cannabis for decades.
Organizations such as the Association for Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine (ACHEM) are working to ensure that this is the case by using their voice and network to advise those who may influence such policy changes. When working with policy advisory bodies, it is important to take note of groups with short-term corporate and institution interests that disregard comprehensive and equitable cannabis policy reform. Unfortunately the US Cannabis Council (USCC) is doing just that, which is why ACHEM made the decision to resign.
The US Cannabis Council even states in their mission that they wish “to build a future of legal access to cannabis delivered through an equitable and values-driven industry by advancing federal cannabis legalization and promoting restorative justice for communities harmed by cannabis prohibition.” This does not seem to be the case as stated in this letter from ACHEM, outlining their resignation from the USCC….
On Wednesday, August 17, 2022, the Association For Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine (ACHEM) resigned from the US Cannabis Council and released the following open letter.
US Cannabis Council (USCC)
2370 Champlain St NW, Suite 12, Washington, DC 20009
Dear Steve Hawkins and USCC leadership,
Please accept this letter as notification that the Association for Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine (ACHEM) is resigning from its position on the USCC board of directors and United States Cannabis Council (USCC) general membership effective immediately.
ACHEM joined USCC in early 2021 as a member of the organization’s executive council, encouraged by USCC’s stated commitment to make social equity a central focus of the organization’s endeavor to drive federal cannabis policy reform. Aligned in this effort, ACHEM provided valuable contributions to federal policy position papers, including USCC’s response to Senators Schumer, Booker, and Wyden’s first draft of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) released last summer, offering meaningful direction on health-, medical-, and patient-equity issues. Since joining, however, ACHEM has recognized the increasing influence of corporate cannabis priorities over the council that has continually overshadowed or siloed equity-focused recommendations.
USCC’s focus on short-term corporate and institution interests has hindered its ability to advance comprehensive and equitable cannabis policy reform. We are afraid the organization has strayed from its founding principles. ACHEM cannot in good conscience maintain our membership in USCC when its current positions no longer align with efforts to make cannabis legalization first and foremost inclusive and equitable so that everyone in the United States, particularly those most harmed by cannabis prohibition, can holistically benefit from the nascent industry.
Although ACHEM appreciates its time as a founding member of USCC and its role as a change agent within the organization, we have not seen the level of attention or positive change surrounding equity and proper medical policy that we expected from the organization’s initiatives and lobbying.
ACHEM will continue to fight for health equity in the cannabis industry through its internal efforts and alongside like-minded organizations. In the future, we hope that USCC will fully embrace the guiding principles that made it so promising when we joined. The industry needs leadership committed to righting the wrongs of the past to build a healthy and prosperous community for everyone, not just the privileged and powerful.
Ogadinma Obie, MD
ACHEM, the industry’s leading coalition of BIPOC cannabis trailblazers and thought leaders, provides a reliable and powerful resource of cannabis knowledge by redefining health equity and combining it with evidence-based scientific research, sharpened critical thinking skills, continuous interaction with innovation and new scientific information, and ethical loyalty to pass our knowledge on to the next generation of all health professionals.