It’s easy to think of marijuana legalization as something cool because people get to consume something illegal, but it’s more important than that. Legalization can mean so much to many people. It can help folks with chronic pain and can bring about racial justice. While it may be difficult to see how this could bring about racial justice, it can, and you’re going to learn how.
This is about more than marijuana. Many people of color were put behind bars because of marijuana. Since the plant was classified as a drug, many people of color were arrested and sent to jail.
That’s just wrong, and it could be improved by making marijuana legal. Cops will have one less reason to put people of color behind bars. Marijuana doesn’t hurt anyone, and putting people in jail because of it is cruel. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime whatsoever. Legalization gives people of color a glimmer of hope that they’ve needed for a long time.
2. Police Bias
It’s surreal that you can just find a dispensary without any issues, and that wasn’t the case before. While there’s still a long way to go, this is still insane and a positive step in the right direction, especially because of the police bias.
Part of the reason more people of color were arrested than any other color was that cops have a bias against people of color. This is an issue that society is dealing with. Making marijuana illegal made it easier for cops with race issues to act on their biases. By making marijuana legal, you take away one of the most effective tools for arresting people of color.
Incarceration for marijuana possession or distribution seems to affect people of color more often than any other group. This is something you already know, but it goes beyond incarcerations. The truth is that this also affects folks after they leave jail or prison life.
Once someone has served their time, that person should be redeemed completely, yet these folks still have to disclose their time behind bars and still don’t get hired for many jobs. This is something that affects people of color more often, and it hurts. Promotions are denied, higher-paying jobs are denied, and much more. Fortunately, there are organizations that are fighting this. For instance Substance Market, a dispensary in Bend, Oregon, is a founding member of the Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association (ORCA), which is a mission-driven organization “to represent and advocate for the unique needs of cannabis businesses and consumers in our region.” Substance Market helped create ORCA’s Committee for Social Equity & Racial Justice, to build political and economic power for communities of color. Substance Market is dedicated to using its platform and voice to empower under-served, criminalized, and stigmatized populations.
4. Community Safety
Marijuana being illegal created an underworld full of seedy and dangerous folks willing to sell marijuana. These bad people usually launched their businesses in neighborhoods full of people of color. This created criminal elements inside communities of color, and that put these people in danger.
Not only that, it exposed younger folks to these dangers and temptations. By making marijuana legal, you get rid of this need, and communities all over the country become a bit safer. The need for dangerous people dealing with this drug is gone because all you need to do now is find a dispensary near them. That’s a major step in the right direction, too. While no one is saying that all crime will go away, it’ll do some good.
Racial bias and the war on drugs, mostly marijuana, made over-policing a real thing. Cops had reasons to stay in neighborhoods that were predominantly African American or Latinx. This led to over-policing that caused a lot of issues for people of color. Every little thing they did was looked at as a potential crime. The inherent fear that some police already had led to wrongful arrests and unnecessary confrontations. Sometimes, some of those confrontations led to shootings. If the legalization of marijuana does happen, police will have less of a reason to continue over-policing the way they have for such a long time. While there’s no way changing this one thing will stop cops from over-policing entirely, it may start helping.
Racial bias won’t stop, but the war on drugs made it so much easier to act on that racial bias. People of color will rest easier knowing that this particular policy will stop affecting them the way it has for a long time.
Leave a Reply