I’m asked all the time- why is a rabbi involved in the cannabis industry?
I have ten different reasons, many of which I’ve shared in this blog. Here’s one I’ve never shared.
I believe cannabis can be a catalyst to world peace. Period.
Why? Take the War on Drugs. This has been a war waged by the U.S. government for the past four decades, not on drugs but on people. People of color have been targeted by racist laws and enforcement of those laws which has resulted in the inevitable outcome of any war - poverty, incarceration, death and destruction. In the end, lives have been ruined, families have been torn apart and communities have been decimated - all in the name of cannabis.
Enter cannabis social equity.
Cannabis social equity is an attempt to overcome this inequity by providing a pathway for people of color to enter industry. Business ownership, job creation, professional training and transferrable skills, security, prosperity, community betterment, personal feelings of purpose, hope and justice - these are all the cornerstone of any healthy, flourishing and peaceful society and what cannabis social equity is working towards.
In America, cannabis social equity is an antidote to the War on Drugs. In other countries cannabis social equity is an antidote to other types of wars.
For instance, Canada is beginning to address injustices perpetrated against First Nation, their indigenous population. This is a people which knows no shortage of abuse, inequity and injustice. In the war waged by Europeans to claim the lands of North America, it was First Nation and Native Americans who paid the price, suffered injustice and have often been relegated to second class citizens. Cannabis social equity is now being considered within Canada as a pathway to restorative justice, economic prosperity and a long overdue, honest and lasting peace.
Latin America is attempting to address the growing disparity between legalized corporate cannabis operators and the subsistence farmers who grow this plant. In places like Uruguay and Columbia, for generations simple farmers have been used and abused, not getting rich, but getting by, growing cannabis. Now that it is legalized the corporate players are indeed getting rich and the subsistence farmers are barely subsisting. Cannabis social equity in Latin America may look very different than North America, but equally is being explored as a platform for peace.
And Israel. Although not yet a conversation, as I am both American and Israeli, I’m committed to making it one. As cannabis is blossoming in Israel, it is not blossoming for everyone. Contrary to popular misunderstanding, Israelis aren’t all Jews. Bedouins, Arabs (Christian and Muslim) and Druze are fully Israeli and the emerging cannabis industry should be afforded to them too.
And then there’s the Palestinians. As every other peace plan has collapsed, what about harnessing the power of this plant for peace?
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza deeply and desperately need new, outside-the-box, economic engines, professional pathways, and ways to connect with and contribute to the world at large. Cannabis in general, and cannabis and hemp farming in particular, could infuse the Palestinian people with prosperity and purpose, transforming them, the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians, and the entire region. Imagine how much different life would be for your average Palestinian were engaged in the cannabis industry. Imagine how much less threatening the situation would be for everyone if Palestinians were exporting marijuana, not missiles!
As Israel begins to export cannabis to the world, it would be wise to import cannabis social equity to the Jewish homeland, and in so doing could quite literally become the most viable platform yet for a real and lasting peace.
Cannabis social equity will need to look different in different countries, but at its core it will remain the same. It is about economic prosperity, personal freedom and restorative justice. It is about planting more than cannabis. It is about planting seeds of peace!
May God Bless Us With A True & Lasting Peace!