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Marijuana Mosaic launches with energetic first event at UMASS Boston

A mosaic is defined as “a combination of diverse elements forming a more or less coherent whole.” It is the coming together of different shapes, colors, sizes, textures, ages, qualities, abilities and ideas to create one beautiful thing.

Earlier this year, Kamani Jefferson of the Cannabis Cultural Association and I met and immediately agreed that there was a need for an event that addresses the challenges that women, minorities, and others face in the growing and still very ambiguous cannabis industry. We created Marijuana Mosaic to bring together diverse people and perspectives to shape the Commonwealth’s cannabis industry to be inclusive, collaborative, respectful, and complementary to our medical marijuana program.

Today in Massachusetts, a Commonwealth known for our revolutionary, progressive and independent thinking, and where possession of marijuana has been “decriminalized,” black residents are arrested at more than 3 times the rate of white residents. The ACLU also reports that when it comes to selling the drug, black people are arrested more than 7 times more often than white people.

And if you are not a certified medical marijuana patient registered with the Department of Public Health, you must engage in criminal activity to acquire marijuana that could be laced with poisons like fentanyl, as it was recently in my home town, or infested with dangerous mold or other chemicals.

Cannabis prohibition is oppression on all of us. It maintains a stigma against responsible adult users who choose cannabis over alcohol. It creates distrust between parents and kids, and distrust between the public and our elected officials.

Prohibition denies us from the use and access to clean, quality plant matter that makes us feel better in countless ways. It denies us from the fair and timely creation of a billion-dollar industry that will provide a place for women and minorities to be business owners and equitable leaders. It stagnates innovation in healthcare and manufacturing. It keeps deadly substances like alcohol and cigarettes on a deceitful and glamorized pedestal of exclusion from responsibility for the deaths they cause every day.

By passing ballot question #4 on November 8, Massachusetts takes an incredibly bold, yet fair and reasonable step toward a kinder, gentler, inclusive and incredibly exciting future. As our speakers at the first Marijuana Mosaic event shared, regulation of marijuana will result in safer access to this plant that millions of us use. A regulated system will create jobs and generate millions of dollars in tax revenue to reinvest in our people, infrastructure, schools and social services in Massachusetts. It will drive down costs and increase patient and veteran access to safe and clean medical marijuana.

Responsible adults -- as most of us are -- need a safe, regulated system. If we can buy grain alcohol and vodka-infused whipped cream at the age of 21, knowing full well the dangers and deaths that alcohol causes every day, so should we be able to buy a substance that cannot kill us. And we should be able to buy it from a business and professionals who test their products, adhere to strict advertising and zoning regulations, and give back to our communities.

Voter registration ends on Wednesday, October 19. Please make sure you are registered and please vote. Your vote is your voice -- use it.

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