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NAACP says ‘medical marijuana czar' is ignoring input from minority groups

The California State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has raised some concerns about Lori Ajax, Gov. Jerry Brown's nominee for chief of the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation. Media reports have called Ajax California's first medical marijuana "czar." The Bureau, which oversees the regulation and sale of marijuana, is a division of the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Medical marijuana has been legal for a while in California, but last November voters approved the use of recreational marijuana. This move is expected to reap the state up to $1 billion in sales tax. But as the state hopes to cash in on the marijuana industry, Black Americans feel they are being shut out of a business that they were criminalized for participating in when it was illegal.

In a letter addressed to Brown, NAACP State President Alice Huffman, said Ajax had largely ignored minority communities in her information sessions discussing the process of implementing legalized marijuana. The NAACP letter also accused Ajax of avoiding meeting with the organization. However, she had scheduled meetings with law enforcement organizations and local governments.

Huffman also stated that it was important to hear the input from the Black community because minorities had been harshly impacted by tough drug laws.

"The prejudicial treatment of people of color who commit Cannabis-reIated crimes has resulted in the devastation of families and destruction of individuals' lives," said Huffman in the letter.

The NAACP letter also called on Brown to reject confirming Ajax to the post. Ajax is currently on the schedule to appear in front of a Senate committee hearing on Feb. 15.

California Black Media reached out to the Department of Consumer Affairs' Public Affairs Office for more information. They said that any Public Records request for information about the number of minority groups Ajax had addressed had to be issued via email. It would take up to 10 days for them to respond to that request.

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