As marijuana use becomes more destigmatized, justice reform for marijuana has grown. How have representatives kept the communities affected by the War on Drugs at the forefront of the conversation?
A recent bill introduced to the NYC Council would make it illegal to test pre-employees for THC. The logic is that employers don’t test for alcohol. So, they shouldn’t test for weed.
The NYC Council officially passed the “Prohibition of drug testing for pre-employment hiring procedures” bill on April 9. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams proposed the bill, sponsored by other city council representatives.
False stigma & illogical policy around marijuana continue to harm people.
Today the @NYCCouncil passed my bill to ban pre-employment marijuana testing and help end a war on drugs which has become a war on workers, esp. in black & brown communities.
— Jumaane Williams (@JumaaneWilliams) April 9, 2019
The bill is one of many legal steps that have been taken in response to the growing support of legalizing marijuana.
Why should it be legal?
Marijuana is federally classified as a Schedule I drug. Schedule I drugs include harder drugs such as heroin and LSD.
This goes back to the outdated claim of marijuana as a dangerous drug responsible for criminal activity and insanity. Proponents for criminalization also called it “gateway drug” despite evidence for either claim.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, most people who try pot don’t continue to smoke it. And there are no reported deaths from marijuana use.
The Nixon era “War on Drugs” which was a political move for power, lead to a surge in the mass incarceration of POC.
According to a 2018 status report from A Drug Policy Alliance release, “Black and Latinx people are more likely to be arrested for marijuana law violations than White people, despite similar rates of use and sales across racial groups.”
What does decriminalization really mean for communities of color?
The DPA report also acknowledges the remaining racial disparity of marijuana-related arrests despite legalization.
“Initial data shows that while legalization substantially reduced the total number of Black and Latinx people arrested for marijuana offenses, it did not eliminate the forces that contributed to the disparity in the first place, such as the over-policing of low-income neighborhoods, racial profiling, and other racially motivated police practices.”
It’s how you make it legal that matters:
Police reform is necessary for true justice in the communities that have been hurt by the War on Drugs. The decriminalization of marijuana is also in need of accompanying economic justice.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a consistent supporter of progressive marijuana legalization and emphasized the need for racial and economic justice during weed legalization.
You can’t separate marijuana legalization from the injustices of the War on Drugs.
If you do, those who profit from private prisons can get another payday w/ marijuana.
$ is a justice issue. Communities decimated by mass incarceration need to see investments w/ legalization. https://t.co/pOxdDfZkcs
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 15, 2019
What have representatives done?
The NYC Council’s Progressive Caucus addressed this issue in a statement: “The passage of these bills is an important step in the decriminalization of marijuana and the reduction of collateral consequences such as job loss and loss of access to subsidized housing and other public benefits.”
We need these types of laws that specifically protect the economic opportunities of POCs during the decriminalization process.
New York Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes introduced a bill in 2013 called Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act that would uplift communities of color by requiring half of marijuana tax revenue go into job training and priority licensing for POCs.
Gov. Cuomo wants to use marijuana revenue for mass transit in NYC. Peoples-Stokes has continued to defend her provision amid talks for legalization. This is why NY has yet to fully legalize weed.
Still, we know there are government representatives we can trust to have the community’s back when it comes to getting green for legalizing the green.
In the meantime, smoke some trees and get ready for new green business opportunities.