As marijuana legalization spreads throughout the United States attention turns to how people are benefiting from legal cannabis. Justifications for marijuana legalization are the benefits it is intended to bring the people in the form of medicine, financially and removing the injustices that many people face from low-level marijuana cases.
Cities like Cotton Plant, Arkansas or New Castle, Pennsylvania are already seeing the financial benefits of marijuana legalization from the jobs that it is creating. Arkansas has focused its zoning for legal marijuana businesses in the cities that need it the most.
Arkansas voters decided in 2016 to legalize the plant for medical use, giving the state an opportunity both to develop a new industry and to address nagging social problems. The state’s licensing program encourages legal marijuana growers to set up shop where the new jobs are needed most, in perennially poor communities.
The fact that Cotton Plant, Ark., a small Delta city hollowed out by racism and the forces of economic change, may soon host one of the state’s first five licensed growing operations illustrates the novel streak of social engineering in America’s piecemeal rollout of state-sanctioned marijuana.
Other states and cities have adopted rules to ensure, or at least encourage, minority-group participation in the fledgling marijuana industry, whether as growers or as distributors. Many are also trying to steer its economic benefits to the forlorn towns and neighborhoods that have posed the most intractable economic puzzles.
All of New England and many other east coast states have voted and approved either a medical marijuana or a recreational marijuana program but are still waiting for the infrastructure to be put in place for cultivation and dispensary licenses to be issued. States on the west coast that already have established cannabis marketplaces are setting the example for other states and allowing states new to legal marijuana learn from their mistakes.