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Women of Influence: Rep. Barbara Lee

Rep. Barbara Lee
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In The Magazine

Women of Influence: Rep. Barbara Lee

California’s Rep. Barbara Lee is leading changes to cannabis laws that have disproportionately impacted communities of color.

The cannabis industry and its backers don’t have a louder voice in Congress than Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). Lee is co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus and backer of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which aims to correct the historical injustices of drug policies that have disproportionately impacted people of color and low-income communities. It passed the House in April 2022.

The MORE Act includes Lee’s original legislation, the Marijuana Justice Act and the REFER Act: the first marijuana racial justice bills introduced in Congress. This bill would end federal prohibition and decriminalize cannabis by removing it from the list of the Controlled Substances Act. Lee was also behind an amendment that protects all state, territory and tribal marijuana programs from federal intervention.

“I’m a fierce advocate of reforming harmful cannabis laws that have disproportionately impacted communities of color. This harm goes beyond petty sentences—a cannabis conviction can impact opportunities at higher education, housing, business ownership. The list goes on and on,” Lee says. “Legalizing cannabis isn’t enough because legalizing cannabis without assurances that small and minority-owned cannabis businesses have equal access to capital could lead to even more disparities in the industry.”

This story was originally published in issue 48 of the print edition of Cannabis Now. Read it now on the Cannabis Now iTunes app.

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