Earlier blog posts have detailed some of the past and ongoing destruction that our nation’s drug wars have produced. But—whose responsibility is it to address historic crimes against citizens, and offer remediation for our nation’s ongoing civil violations? Should we leave it to the same government that executed the wars in the first place? Should we just forget about the victims and carry on without a care?
Farm Bug Co-op believes that repairing drug war damages is the responsibility of those of us who intend to legally engage in the same activities that made drug war casualties destitute, abandoned, imprisoned, or dead. An ethical cannabis business would recognize this responsibility and take effective action.
In Massachusetts, cannabis business license applications require the submission of many plans on how the company will operate – security plans, environmental impact plans, waste management plans, etc. There is only one requirement that asks what each business will do for the people who have been most harmed by our continuing drug wars, without whom the legal industry would not exist. This document is the Positive Impact Plan.
Our plan describes our Goals; the Programs; and their Measurement. What follows is our Positive Impact Plan as it is written and as it will be included on our license application with the state of Massachusetts.
· Our co-op is “grower forward,” and aims to lower the barriers to entry into the legal market for cannabis cultivators who have faced civil forfeiture, incarceration, and worse. To this end we intend on hiring 100% of new staff cultivators from this population of legacy growers.
· Further, we commit that at least two of every three new hires will be drug war casualties. It is our goal to fill our co-op’s membership with those who have suffered the loss, separation or alienation of friends, family, community, opportunity, good will, peace of mind or possessions as a result of the prohibition of cannabis and the broader historic drug wars in general. We intend to recruit at least 67% of member candidates from this population, including those with Social Equity and/or Economic Empowerment certifications.
· Third, it is our goal to produce ethical business owners skilled in cooperative economics with a responsibility to sustain our neighborhoods and our planet. As well as a requirement for membership, we intend to offer all Social Equity and Economic Empowerment applicants free access to our extensive Ownership Training, conducted in cooperation with Wellspring Cooperative, the International Cooperative Alliance, the United States Federation of Worker Co-ops, Coop Cincy, and others.
There are three major programs central to our co-op’s plan to be a force for good in an industry with much to answer for.
Hire Justice is our plan to see that the work of the coop is performed by local casualties of the drug wars and which inflicted harm on all Americans, including farmers. The program is comprised of two parts:
1. Hiring preference to and targeted recruitment for local casualties of the drug wars and Social Equity and Economic Empowerment participants.
2. Ownership Training that addresses the significant learning and behavioral transition most must make on the road between working as a wage employee and working as an informed decision maker and responsible equity owner.
Public Advocacy to reduce the barriers to entry for drug war casualties has been one of our cornerstone programs since shortly after Question 4 passed in 2016. Founding Member Eric Schwartz has been a tireless and consistent worker for regulatory provisions that seek to carry out the CCC’s mandate to enable and encourage this constituency’s full participation in the industry by both local farmers and those most impacted by the war on drugs.
Regenerative agriculture as a key element in a sustainable cultivation business is another practice at the heart of our proposed facility at Chesterfield. To effectively become a positive impact, one must first stop behaving negatively. In cannabis cultivation, this means achieving the “closed loop” ideal of returning all waste products into inputs for the benefit of the productive environment. To a community, this means no waste - toxic or otherwise - added to the municipal waste stream, the local water supply, or the local soil bank. The disproportionate weight of negative health outcomes related to environmental pollution is borne by the same people disproportionately harmed by drug wars. By conducting our cultivation facilities with zero waste practices, we fulfill our ethical duty in this matter to do no harm.
Regular assessment of our performance using both objective and subjective criteria is crucial not only in this positive impact plan, but throughout every aspect of our business.
· For Hire Justice, success will be achieved when, during our first five years 100% of all new hires in cultivation roles and 67% of new hires in non-cultivating roles consist of individuals able to demonstrate harm inflicted by drug wars.
· For Public Advocacy, success will be indicated by financial expenditure reports documenting no less than 5% of our labor costs during the first three years devoted to achieving our legislative and regulatory agenda.
· For Regenerative Agriculture, our goal of producing zero waste from our cultivation facility will be measured by tracking the following input categories measured by percent of total production input costs including packaging, as well as by weight of actual waste removed from site:
1. Non-biodegradable, non-renewable material such as single use plastic film
2. Recyclable but non-renewable material such as ocean sourced plastics or aluminum
3. Recyclable and renewable material such as plant fiber paper or irrigation water fit to return to the water table
4. Fully biodegradable material such as green waste and other compostable plant material
Together, our plan will enact real and effective remediation to this country’s historic and ongoing drug wars. By offering ethical cannabis business opportunities to those most harmed, and by engaging in ecologically responsible cultivation practices, we will fulfill our responsibility to our communities and our cooperative values.
This is a good example of why communities should support local cannabis entrepreneurs and cooperatives rather than create restrictive local regulations that hurt small, independently-owned businesses. If our Co-op does not receive local approval, we will be unable to enact our Positive Impact Plan to help our communities to recover from the negative impacts of the war on drugs. We hope that by making our Positive Impact Plan public, we will show our commitment to not only righting the wrongs of the war on drugs, but, also, to supporting our local communities through cooperative economics. J Jasper, Farm Bug Co-op Founding Member