Whom does legalization really help?
The average citizen, or big corporations?
On the surface, legalizing marijuana might sound like a good way to address issues of systemic injustice. At best, it's a band-aid solution. The reality is, marijuana legalization/commercialization exacerbates issues of systemic injustice by creating a predatory addiction-for-profit drug industry.
This new addiction industry is already targeting communities of color like its predecessors Big Tobacco and the liquor industry have always done.
It's time for a new model in between the two extremes of incarceration and commercialization.
People of color are almost 6 times more likely to be arrested for all drugs, including marijuana, than white people.
Substance misuse and addiction should be a health issue, not a criminal justice issue. Removing criminal penalties for marijuana possession as part of a comprehensive marijuana policy is a must, as are expungement, police reform, and other justice principles within a movement for higher standards of social justice.
Legalization, however, goes too far by creating a multi-billion dollar industry whose impact exacerbates many of the underlying contributors to systemic injustice.
Over 2.5 billion dollars invested in marijuana by major tobacco and alcohol companies
Many residents in lower-income communities of color already have the blight a liquor store on every corner. Advertisements for tobacco and lottery tickets abound.
The reality of legalization and commercialization is that these same communities will now be burdened with an oversaturation of pot shops on every other corner as well.
As reported in the Denver Post, in some low-income minority areas of Denver Colorado, there is one marijuana license for every 47 residents.
Addiction-For-Profit- The Numbers
By Will Jones Nonessential businesses have been shut down nationwide but there are reports of long lines outside of liquor and cannabis stores because they've been deemed essential. I'm not here to argue that one way or another. I'm in my 30s, but while I was diagnosed with and was fighting the coronavirus, one of [...]
Racial disparities in arrest rates for drugs are a well-documented (and lived) reality. For decades, drug policy has contributed to skyrocketing incarceration rates among minority populations. That marijuana legalization is promoted as a victory for racial justice is ironic at best. Just look at marijuana's counterparts, the alcohol and tobacco industries.
The Biden-Sanders joint presidential task force recently issued recommendations for a unity platform to move forward on a number of hot button issues. Among them: marijuana legalization, which the task force notably chose not to endorse, siding instead with decriminalization and research.