Black Lawmakers Say Decriminalizing Marijuana Is A Must-Do For Democratic Congress

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Written by Ann Brown

 

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is demanding action. The CBC is tired of the waiting. They want the Democrats to focus on the decriminalization of marijuana. And they say this on “a list of 10 ‘must-do policies’ to ‘address issues hurting both communities of color and rural communities,’” Marijuana Moment reported.

According to the CBC, the decriminalization would have a positive impact on the Black community–thus the to-do list.

Even though people of color use cannabis at roughly the same rate as whites, they are much more likely to be arrested, convicted, and incarcerated for marijuana offenses. This is why the CBC is demanding change.

But some studies says decriminalization of marijuana will not change racial disparity in arrests. “In a recent report by the Drug Policy Alliance, the pro-legalization group documented the effects of marijuana legalization in several states. As expected, marijuana arrests are down dramatically in legal pot states. But arrests remain for, say, possession by people who are under the legal age of 21, unlicensed sales, and public consumption,” Vox reported. In states where marijuana is legal, arrests overall are down, but still Blacks are arrested at a higher rate.

marijuana
FILE – In this April 2, 2016 file photo, a demonstrator waves a flag with marijuana leaves on it during a protest calling for the legalization of marijuana, outside of the White House in Washington. Six states that allow marijuana use have legal tests for driving while impaired by the drug that have no scientific basis, according to a study by the nation’s largest automobile club that calls for scrapping those laws. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

 

“Alaska legalized marijuana in 2014, although it did not start sales until 2016. In the state, white and black arrest rates fell by nearly 99 percent and more than 93 percent, respectively, between 2012 and 2016. But Black people were arrested for marijuana at a rate of 17.7 per 100,000 in 2016, while white people were arrested at a rate of 1.8 per 100,000 — about 10 times less,” Vox reported.

Yet the CBC is stressing that arrests will drop for Blacks and is counting on their list to be implemented if Democrats come back into power.

Placed at number 4 on the list is ‘“Ending the War on Drugs.” And under this point, there are a number of items and they include: Decriminalize the use and possession of marijuana allowing states to make their own decisions and end federal prohibition and related law enforcement of marijuana; take marijuana off of the Controlled Substances Act and create a “Community Reinvestment Fund” to invest in communities most impacted by the War on Drugs with programs such as job training, reentry, community centers; eliminate mandatory minimums for federal drug offenses; among other items.

“If Democrats take back the House next Congress, CBC would insist that they pass these policies within the first 100 days,” a press release from the caucus says.

CBC also included other proposed changes on the list, such as banning private prisons, increasing access to affordable housing, gun safety reforms, health care expansion and the protections of voting rights.

“Here’s the reality: If we want to truly help people of color, women, those in rural communities, workers, the poor, and others, then we have to put people in charge who share those values,” CBC Chairman Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA) said in a statement.

The CBC has been working its way toward this latest policy change recommendations. In May, leaders of the caucus “included cannabis descheduling as a provision of the sweeping 1,227-page Jobs and Justice Act, a bill intended to ‘increase the upward social mobility of Black families, and help ensure equal protection under the law,’” Marijuana Moment reported.

Ann Brown
Image Attribution: FILE - In this April 2, 2016 file photo, a demonstrator waves a flag with marijuana leaves on it during a protest calling for the legalization of marijuana, outside of the White House in Washington. Six states that allow marijuana use have legal tests for driving while impaired by the drug that have no scientific basis, according to a study by the nation’s largest automobile club that calls for scrapping those laws. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File) IMAGE:ANITA SANIKOP