June 14, 2020

As long-time dedicated activists, we are in awe of the world-shaking Black Lives Matter movement. This popular uprising, continuing in a tradition of such movements around the world throughout history, is something that reflects the very best of grassroots activism. MassCann supports this uprising and offers what resources we have unconditionally.

Because of a history of violent racist policing towards Black people in the United States, in particular associated with cannabis, Black voices have been unjustly silenced from the greater community (with cannabis activism being no exception). Those of us involved with MassCann feel we have a duty to help create a society where Black people are comfortable being associated with cannabis sans qualification.

In the service of that goal, we wish to provide a platform for any and all voices from those communities via our educational village (and its virtual compliment). This platform was built through years of volunteer time and energy to educate the public, and those tasked with crafting legislation and regulations related to cannabis, on the systemic racism mobilized through prohibition and Jim Crow laws in the United States.  The systemic racism that was so prevalent in the enforcement of cannabis laws throughout the history of this Country is an abhorrent testament to that disgusting legacy.

The evident systemic racism in the prosecution of cannabis “crimes”, including the life altering consequences thereafter, were a manifestation of that systemic racism that was so grotesque as to be intentionally designed to sustain a vicious cycle of oppression.  That systemic racism is what needs to change and MassCann is committed to doing everything in its power to ensure that cycle comes to an end entirely.

For over 30 years, MassCann has fought against the prohibition of cannabis by making it very clear to lawmakers, regulators and the public that such prohibition is rooted in racism (something we continue to make a core component of our mission to this day). One of the main themes of our Education Village, in that spirit, is explicitly designed to demonstrate that Harry Anslinger and Richard Nixon doubled down on cannabis prohibition specifically because of their racist outlook.

Along with MassCann’s work to promote education about the racist history of prohibition and the medicinal properties of cannabis, we also work diligently to stay on top of the legislative/regulatory work necessary to ensure ideological demands are codified into statute. MassCann has worked for years to gather signatures for non-binding referendum showing what percentage support for cannabis legalization existed among Massachusetts citizens (and where that support existed). That work was integral to laying the groundwork for eventual citizens initiatives (including the 2008 decriminalization initiative, the 2012 medical marijuana law, and the eventual 2016  Legalization bill). Unfortunately since then, legal shenanigans have made things much more difficult for Black entrepreneurs to open a business (and thus our fight goes on).

The yearly Boston Freedom Rally has been the largest example of how a diverse cannabis community can come together with peace and love (something we have been doing for decades), and that welcoming spirit is what we continue to strive to achieve. Current directors are working to specifically schedule our monthly meetings in areas of Boston and across Massachusetts to reach all communities (although that work has, sadly, been delayed by the ongoing pandemic).

In the interim, we have moved our monthly directors meetings to a virtual format (which will hopefully allow expanded access for members from across the Commonwealth). As an organization, we are working towards laws that will facilitate expungement of cannabis convictions (as such unjust convictions overwhelmingly targeted Black and Brown communities) while also supporting Black owned businesses through our own meetings and events. We welcome all members who may wish to join in furtherance of our strategic aim to ensure MassCann (along with all of our organizational resources) are a platform for fighting racism in all its forms.

We also appreciate those of you who took the time to read through this letter; as an organization, we felt it important to say something more than a short statement of support for Black lives (and the protests that have so rightfully brought those voices to the forefront of our national conversation). Laying out our strategic aims, welcoming any and all suggestions as to what we can do going forward, and working to ensure MassCann will continue to be an ally in the fight against racism in all its forms is something we felt warranted an in depth explanation to our members and the public. To provide us with that feedback, or to reach out with any other questions, please feel free to visit https://www.masscann.org.

Black lives matter.

-The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition