Legal Weed Is Great, But Black and Brown Communities Can't Be Left Behind
Marijuana legalization must bring both equity and justice for those most impacted by the War on Drugs.
Publisher: In These Times
Date Written: 11/01/2019
Year Published: 2019
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX23245
Marginalized populations that were hardest hit by the War on Drugs should be at the forefront of legalization legislation as well as recipients of the tax revenue from legalized marijuana.
While our elected officials may want to fast track this marijuana legislation to fix the pension crisis, Black communities - which have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis arrests and discriminatory sentencing practices nationally at a rate of 4:1 over white populations (7:1 in Cook County) - demand more from our public servants. We need legalization initiatives that address criminal justice reform and disparities in the cannabis marketplace while also reversing and repairing the most egregious effects of the War on Drugs upon communities of color.
The annual tax revenue resulting from recreational cannabis in Illinois is projected to reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars. The communities hardest hit by poverty and the effects of the War on Drugs should receive a significant portion of that revenue, and they should get it first. Revenue from recreational marijuana sales should be re-invested into restorative justice programs and be used to fund public schools in low-income areas, jobs programs and a variety of equitable on-ramps into the new industry ear-marked for returning citizens and people from low-income communities. Any legalization bill should also provide immediate expungements or resentencing of marijuana-related cases.