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Looking Forward

US Congressman Ro Khanna | September 3, 2019

The Marijuana Justice Act is a great piece of legislation. It legalizes marijuana at the federal level and gets it off the schedule in the federal government. More and more people support this view. However, legalizing marijuana alone is not sufficient. There are real justice issues at stake. Many of the people who are in jail today are there because of possession drug crimes, for the use of marijuana, or for the use of or a minor sale. That means when someone sells something to a family member or friend—it’s a different definition than a drug dealer. Criminal justice reform We need to have a way of expunging low-level offenses. The Marijuana Justice Act does that in ways that reintegrates them into society. The prison population has almost quadrupled in the last 25 to 30 years because of the War on Drugs. That’s a remarkable number. How could that possibly be? Public policy has directly impacted people’s lives. One in three African Americans have an arrest record or spend time in jail. That number is staggering. African Americans have been disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs. The Marijuana Justice Act is great in that it legalizes marijuana so that kids aren’t being jailed or developing arrest records going forward, but we also need restorative justice. We need to expunge these convictions which destroy lives. The trajectory of the life of an individual who gets convicted at the age of 20 or 21 is forever changed. Baby steps While the Marijuana Justice …

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