President elect Joe Biden has nominated Isabel Guzman of California to head the federal Small Business Administration. This office is in charge of granting business loans and grants to operate and/or scale business functions. Senator Corey Booker has raised interesting questions in her appointment.
In her appointment confirmation hearings Senator Booker asked Guzman how she would approach cannabis convictions with people registering for small business loans. Specifically, Booker spotlighted that, “Those people with criminal convictions for doing things that two of the last four presidents admitted doing will be excluded…” Booker was alluding to the high number of arrests for cannabis in the United States according to the Marijuana Moment.
The SBA governs programs including small business financing as well as the Payment Protection Program (PPP) many are relying on during COVID. While the upcoming bills on cannabis legalization may address this concern it does nothing in the meantime to address those affected. “I just want to put a finer point on what I’m looking for, which is just—you can do it with a stroke of a pen. You can empower folks, and you know marijuana laws are disproportionately enforced against who?” Booker said.
Guzman responded with “People of Color”. Booker went on to say, “We literally have college kids, with impunity, smoking pot, but people who are black and brown are four times more likely even though their usage rates are no different. That ultimately affects 40,000 collateral consequences. That is one of the reasons why there’s such a wealth disparity between communities of color, because they’re over-policed and over-convicted for things that are just unjust.”
The exchange between the two is interesting. Check it out on youtube. However, I question if Booker or Guzman is ready to go to bat, meaning pay the price for sticking to the merits of fighting for such a cause.
I do not question the ethics of either person. As a politician the job is to sway with the political wind not stand fast on personal convictions. Right now America is primed for legal change concerning cannabis. Will politicians hold steadfast to fight for people adversely affected by cannabis laws if the political climate changes?