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Funding support for US cannabis policy and social justice reform research

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The Hawthorne Social Justice Fund is providing funding over two years to support four fellows to focus on research related to cannabis policy and social justice reforms.

The Hawthorne Social Justice Fund has committed to a $600,000 (~£441,879) multi-year sponsorship of the John R. Lewis Social Justice Fellows programme within the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. The fellows will be the first from the John R. Lewis programme dedicated to cannabis issues.

The Hawthorne Fund, created in 2021 to support non-profits devoted to social justice, is part of The Hawthorne Gardening Company, a subsidiary of The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company – famed for its high-quality soil and gardening products.

Paul Dumars, co-interim president, CEO, CFO and COO of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, commented: “We’re delighted to partner with the Hawthorne Social Justice Fund in support of the John R. Lewis Social Justice Fellowship as we cultivate and equip early-career policy professionals and create a pipeline of young Black leaders.”

Read more: New report lays out cannabis social equity principles for UK

Hawthorne Gardening, a North American leader in indoor and hydroponic growing solutions, has sought to use its influence and resources to help shape criminal justice reform related to cannabis prohibition and create a more equitable post-prohibition cannabis industry. 

Fellows funded by the Hawthorne Social Justice Fund must demonstrate a commitment to creating and implementing public policy to improve living conditions for underserved and underrepresented people. Candidates must have at least five years of policy development, community activism or grassroots organising in a leadership position, or, preferably, a graduate or professional degree completed prior to the fellowship start date. 

Chris Hagedorn, division president of Hawthorne Gardening Company and executive vice president of ScottsMiracle-Gro, commented: “There is no doubt that cannabis laws have led to systemic racial and social inequities, and we are grateful to be able to join with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in finding ways to address this critical issue.

“We’re also proud to be affiliated with a program named for John Lewis, whose lifelong commitment to social justice continues to inspire millions of Americans. It is our hope the four John Lewis fellows will inform the debate related to cannabis reform and work directly with policy makers in establishing a framework for impactful and positive change in Black communities.”

The fellows will work in Congress and as researchers in the Center for Policy Analysis and Research to analyse cannabis policy and social justice issues at large as well as criminal justice reform, in particular, through the lens of education, economic opportunity, incarceration, courts and law enforcement. 

Examples include reforms such as decriminalisation, expungement, sentencing and incarceration; hurdles federal law presents for the emerging regulation of cannabis by states; and black wealth creation and solutions for supporting licensed ownership and successful operation of businesses in the emerging cannabis industry.

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation is accepting and reviewing applications for the first two fellows, who will start on 12 September, 2022. The deadline to apply is 6 May, 2022, at https://cbcfinc.academicworks.com/opportunities/949.

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