“This Needs to be Done”: Chris Webber’s $175M facility shows what’s possible when you end the criminalization of cannabis

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When senate majority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced his bill to decriminalize cannabis this past July, he said, quite sincerely:

This is monumental. The war on drugs has really been a war on people, particularly people of color. The waste of human resources because of the historic over-criminalization has been one of the great historical wrongs for the last decades and we are going to change it.

That’s not hyperbole. To appreciate the staggering magnitude of this “great historical wrong” take a look at what happened yesterday in SW Detroit – a part of the city that’s “desperately needing investment” – when NBA Hall of Famer Chris Webber broke ground on his planned $175M, 180,000 sq. foot Webber Wellness Compound.

His Compound is a cannabis facility that will include cultivation, a dispensary, a private lounge to consume the site’s product, a criminal record expungement office open to anyone, and a training facility – a three-month job-training program targeting citizens from underserved Detroit communities that will train students for a wide range of jobs, from budtending (selling cannabis) to cultivating marijuana.

Asked what motivated him to do this, a passionate Chris Webber – who was born in Detroit, attended the Detroit Country Day High School, and went on to play for U of Michigan’s iconic ‘Fab Five’ –  said it’s past time that Black citizens came in from the cold:

Name one business where Blacks haven’t been left out. First and foremost, this is about business and access to individuals who are qualified and giving access to the community that was so unfairly targeted by unfair laws, racist laws.

Hopefully, there’s a freedom with that. I’ve seen through family, friends, my community — families devastated by the plant that can cause so much healing and restoration. Now that others try to take advantage of it, it’s funny that I’m even questioned on why I would do it when it’s so obvious that in America, this needs to be done.

So that’s one option, made possible by Michigan’s 2018 legalization of cannabis, where it joins 17 other states that have done so.

Or we can continue with the other option, where recreational cannabis is still prohibited in the majority of states, and federally. Where, across the country last year there was a cannabis arrest every 90 seconds and more cannabis arrests (> 350,000) than for murder, rape, robbery, burglary, fraud and embezzlement combined.

Which option we ultimately go with is up to us. But how do you argue with Chris Webber when he says, “it’s funny that I’m even questioned on why I would do it when it’s so obvious that in America, this needs to be done.”

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