Our nation is currently standing at a crossroads to find ways to reform and mitigate decades of harm that have been experienced by communities of color. One argument put forth is to legalize and commercialize marijuana as a way to address tPublishedhe disproportionate impacts.
But the data gleaned so far from states that have legalized the drug tell us this policy approach will greatly exacerbate existing social justice issues, bring about further health and safety harms, and enrich overwhelmingly white investors and corporate funders. Thankfully, legalization is not our only choice.
Removing criminal penalties for low-level marijuana use—essentially treating marijuana more like a traffic ticket—means putting an immediate end to arresting folks for simply using or possessing the drug. This policy, paired with expungements of previous records for low-level offenses, is a sound position we at Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) support.
It may not make today’s Ganjapreneuers rich, but it begins the process of addressing problematic policy impacts.
Marijuana legalization, however, means the corporatization and commercialization of an industry aimed at increasing profits. Already flush with investment from Big Tobacco (such as Altria, the owner of Marlboro), Big Alcohol and other addiction giants with a history of predatory marketing aimed at disadvantaged communities, Big Marijuana profits off the sale of today’s highly potent and much more addictive marijuana.
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