There are mixed views on the legalization of Cannabis; some people are for it, and some people are against it. (As a Canadian, and Cannabis advocate, I’m in favour) But whether you’re for the legalization or not, there’s no denying the racial disparities when it comes to cannabis-related arrests and incarceration.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon
According to a 2020 analysis conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union, communities with POC are 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than people in communities with higher Caucasian population, further illuminating the racial disparity connected to drug-related arrests and convictions.
States where it’s been legalized, whether for medicinal or recreational purposes, have seen a significant boom in the cannabis industry. Market Watch predicts the industry will reach an all-time high of around approximately $50 billion by the year 2026, which means a significant boom in job opportunities as well.
In states that have legalized Cannabis, they have seen an apparent drop in drug-related inquiries and offences. Still, for states like New York, where racial disparities in cannabis-related arrests are at an all-time high, New York marijuana legalization may not prove to be as beneficial to POC as it would be for the majority. If you’re a New Yorker and are a POC, one of the best things you might do, at the bare minimum, is to get your medical marijuana card, aka Cannabis Card.
But should America move forward with legalization with so many unanswered questions around it?
Many people who are for legalization, feel that the cannabis industry shouldn’t expand or make any further profits until those individuals who are incarcerated for low-level marijuana possession, are released, especially when those particular charges are no longer criminalized.
People who were convicted of those crimes should be granted a pardon and have said offences expunged from their record. So will the 50 states start turning things around?
Lawmakers in California have taken the process of the expungement of low-level drug charges (Cannabis) and transformed it from a process that people have to request or actively pursue and turned it into an automatic response from the courts and DA offices.
So what could the legalization of Cannabis mean for POC?
Well, it could mean many things;
Reduction in Police Brutality
We see it all the time in the news how POC are treated with excessive force, and a lot of times, result in death at the hands of those who are meant to protect them. By legalizing Cannabis, it gets law enforcement officers to direct their attention on crimes that are more deserving of their attention. (The hope is that by reducing contact with police, we can reduce issues with them)
There are record numbers of primarily black male inmates that have found themselves in jail in the US for “offences” that would have never landed them in prison in Canada, due to different cannabis laws.
The reality is that we know all the good that cannabis use can do, and also, the positive impact on the economy, really there should never have been such high penalties connected to it, so it’s time for a big change right across the board.
More Job Opportunities
With the legalization of Cannabis, it will indeed cause the job market to expand, which means more job opportunities for the public, but also those convicted and newly released. Efforts are currently being made to release and provide job opportunities to the individuals who were convicted of the crimes that are no longer criminalized.
Depending on the offence an individual was given, it results in a misdemeanour or felony charge, making it very hard to find employment, housing, and overall just trying to find acceptance as a member re-joining society. (not to mention you can’t vote again)
Jobs are the source of our livelihood and being turned down from every job a former convict applies to can be very devastating. Being able to go out into the world without a record hanging over your head, with the possibility of a new life is at the very least, at starting place.
Here’s what we know; Cannabis products are used for patients with cancer, and a wide array of other positive uses, Cannabis products and culture is big money and in a global pandemic, is one primary solution to help any economy. Furthermore, there shouldn’t have been crime and punishment attached to it ever, but we can thank America for the evil, racist “war on drugs”.
So, release those incarcerated for Cannabis-related crimes, legalize it and start building a new economy with cannabis culture as an essential thriving part.
Just some advise. Take it!