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Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Announces Marijuana Justice Fellowship Program Funded By Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation



A foundation run by the major agricultural equipment manufacturing company Scotts Miracle-Gro announced on Wednesday that it is providing $600,000 in funding for a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) fellowship program to support the next generation of advocates and policymakers in the push for marijuana and other social justice reform in Congress.

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation’s Hawthorne Social Justice Fund will support four John R. Lewis Social Justice fellows through CBCF. Participants in the program, which is named after the late congressman and civil rights champion, will “focus on research related to cannabis policy and social justice reforms and propose solutions to Congress,” according to a press release.

“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,” Paul Dumars, co-interim president of CBCF, said.

“Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to social justice—either through public policy or through professional experience—as well as a commitment to creating and implementing public policy to improve living conditions for underserved and underrepresented individuals,” a CBCF description of the program says.

Fellows “will work in Congress and as researchers in the Center for Policy Analysis and Research to analyze cannabis policy and social justice issues at large and criminal justice reform, in particular, through the lens of education, economic opportunity, incarceration, courts and law enforcement to propose policy solutions to Congress,” it says.

“Examples of possible research related to cannabis policy include the impact of criminal justice reforms like decriminalization, expungement, sentencing and incarceration, the hurdles federal law presents for the emerging regulation of cannabis by states, black wealth creation and solutions for supporting licensed ownership and successful operation of businesses in the emerging cannabis industry for maximum impact in Black communities.”

The fact that Scotts Miracle-Gro’s foundation is providing the $600,000 is funding isn’t especially surprising, as the company and its cannabis-focused Hawthorne Gardening Company subsidiary have taken a consistent stance in support of cannabis legalization and been involved in lobbying for various reform efforts.

Here’s a description of the requirements and opportunities for prospective fellows under the program, which will last for a 12-month period: 

  • Work experience in Washington, D.C. (CBCF reserves the right to host the Fellowship in a virtual format depending on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic)
  • Attend a one-week orientation
  • 6-Month Rotation Placement in the U.S. Congress and the CBFC’s Center for Policy Analysis and Research, maintaining a forty (40) hours a week schedule
  • Complete an issue brief for publication on the CBCF website or article for the CPAR Journal
  • Participate in monthly Professional Development Sessions

Applications for the program are already open and being reviewed, and the first two CBCF fellows will be selected and start on September 12. The deadline to apply is May 6, 2022.

CBCF separately announced in December that it will be launching a partnership with major marijuana industry stakeholders to provide internship opportunities to black students and recent graduates who will get first-hand work experience at major cannabis companies this year.

The U.S. Cannabis Council (USCC) is sponsoring that spring 2022 program, which will place nine interns at one of eight marijuana firms like Canopy, Columbia Care, Curaleaf, the Marijuana Policy Project and Weedmaps.

CBCF was founded about five years after the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) came together in 1971. Its board is comprised of private industry executives, educators and several current members of the legislative caucus such as Reps. Colin Allred (D-TX), Dwight Evans (D-PA) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX).

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