Reinvestment & Reconciliation

Shaleen Title, Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission | August 4, 2019

The war on drugs disproportionately affected minority communities, and now is the time to right our wrongs through reinvestment and reconciliation. When we legalize and regulate cannabis, we’re not starting from scratch. We’re making new regulations on an industry that has existed for decades. We must consider the criminal justice implications holistically if we don’t want to repeat the past. Systemic injustice The ACLU put out a statistic that says black people are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white people, despite equitable use. We need to explicitly acknowledge in new cannabis laws that, when it comes to criminal justice and business provisions, we take that unfair treatment into account. That’s been done in the past by ensuring that cannabis-related criminal records are sealed and expunged. Additionally, different types of priority or assistance has been given to communities harmed by the war on drugs. We’re also reinvesting into those communities. However, even after cannabis reform and legalization, the systemic racism that caused such a statistic to exist in the first place remains. For example, in Massachusetts, the Cannabis Control Commission recently released a report that showed arrests going down after decriminalization and legalization, but disparities still existed against black and Latino people in particular. Law enforcement targets them disproportionately with impaired driving bills or bills that crack down on the illicit market, whose intention is to encourage people to move to the legal market. We have to understand history to realize that law enforcement will not likely enforce …

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