The Green Wave is sweeping across the United States of America with the legalization of recreational marijuana in addition to medicinal marijuana. The cannabis craze has seen recreational marijuana legalized in 11 states while 22 other states have some law legalizing the medical use of marijuana. While this would seem to be cause for celebration on the surface, there is an ugly side to the legalization of marijuana. Minorities and business owners of color are not seeing the full benefits of legalization, despite being one of the demographics who should, in theory, benefit the most from it.
The War On Drugs Disproportionately Targets POC
One of the main arguments for the legalization of recreational marijuana from advocates was to call an end to the costly and ineffective War on Drugs that has been waged since the early 1970s. Decriminalization is incredibly important seeing as over 8 million people have been arrested on marijuana charges over the last 20 years, the bulk of whom were people of color. The War on Drugs isn’t just an abject failure but has always been and continues to this day to be a concerted attack on communities of color.
While it is true that business owners and communities of color stand to benefit and profit from the legalization of recreational marijuana and legal marijuana derivatives like CBD oil, the fact of the matter is that it simply isn’t happening at the rate it should. When recreational marijuana becomes legalized in any area, the appropriate thing would be to immediately overturn any non-violent marijuana convictions in that area. While Illinois has done this properly, cities like Los Angeles and Denver have taken far too long to begin the process of overturning convictions, leaving many people of color sitting in prison while white business owners reap profits off of the plant that put them there.
Published: February 25, 2020
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News