Senator Cory Booker expressed to the head of the Small Business Administration the consequences of not extending a helping hand to those with prior marijuana offenses.
Cory Booker and Marijuana
Isabel Guzman, who is now the director of the Small Business Administration (SBA), had thoughts about changing the administration’s policy to prohibit people with past marijuana convictions from receiving certain services and federal business loans. Booker had much to say about the existing policy. He is one of three senators who are actively working to enact drug reform in the U.S., starting with marijuana.
“The universe is not that big, but you could really become a model for the whole executive branch, where just somebody got in there and quickly did right, I know communities would celebrate as much as I will, should and when that happens.” said Booker after lecturing her about the necessity of doing the right thing. This quote reflects Booker’s general approach to politics: direct and compassionate.
Marijuana Activism in the Senate
“I hate to put you on the spot,” Booker said, “but would you commit to reversing this guidance and creating justice for black and brown folks who have been over-incarcerated for these non-violent drug crimes to allow them to have access to these loan programs?”
Guzman responded with, “I believe I shared with you as well that, during my time at the administration, we did focus on this reentry population, as well as making some administrative changes to simplify access. I would immediately be willing to dive in and explore what administrative changes are possible.”
Booker wouldn’t back down though, “I just want to put a finer point on what I’m looking for, which is just- you can do it with a stroke of a pen. You can empower folks. And you know marijuana laws are disproportionately enforced against who?” Guzman responded with, “People of color.” Booker immediately replied, “People of color. We literally have college kids with impunity, smoking pot… 40,000 collateral consequences… Communities of color (are) over-policed and over-convicted for things that are just unjust.” Guzman nodded in agreement.
Agreeing with Booker, Senator Jacky Rosen discussed certain cannabis businesses unable to gain SBA aid. “We do have legal state cannabis businesses. Will you work with our office to commit to consider providing legally operating cannabis small businesses equal access to SBA resources- loans, counseling, mentoring and training?”
Guzman replied, “I commit to further understanding those rules and regulations, and seeing how we can partner with your office to serve all the small businesses who are in need.” A gracious lead in an attempt to help smaller cannabis businesses!
As we wait to see what the future holds for cannabis, we encourage you to spread information related to the plant. Promote local marijuana activism and encourage other cannabis enthusiasts to help make this plant available to those who need it. Write to your local legislators explaining how marijuana has benefited you.
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