With Democrats in complete control of Congress and the White House, the odds of true cannabis reform, like full federal legalization, have never been higher. For years, cannabis has provided a strong track record of job creation, tax revenues, and restorative justice in communities disproportionately affected by War on drugs. It was also extremely popular with the American people, where over 91% of adults support the legalization of cannabis for medical or adult recreational purposes.
And yet, despite all of this, there has hardly been any momentum at the federal level to legalize cannabis – until now, that is.
He reaffirmed the first during a town hall earlier this year, where he said “no one should go to jail for using drugs,” especially when it comes to addressing racial disparities in drug use. He is not the only one.
Lawmakers push for cannabis reform
In the lower house of Congress, the President of the United States House Judiciary Jerry Nadler recently reintroduced a social justice approach cannabis legalization bill, known as the MORE Take action.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has expressed support for great cannabis reform, including decriminalizing possession, clearing criminal records and reinvesting in communities hardest hit by the failed war on drugs.
He worked closely withDemocrat Sens. Cory Booker and Ron Wyden to introduce a more comprehensive cannabis reform bill which would end the prohibition of cannabis and promote social justice, similar to the MORE law.
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“I am a great fighter for racial justice, and the marijuana laws have been one of the biggest examples of racial injustice, and so changing them makes sense,”Schumer said.“And that fits into the whole movement now to bring equality to the police, to the economy and everything in between. Our bill is, in a sense, at the intersection of racial justice, individual liberty and state rights.
When you look at the numbers and who are affected by this failed drug war, it’s hard not to discuss why cannabis should be legalized.
According to The Last Prisoner Project, anon-profit organization dedicated to cannabis-related criminal justice reform:
- 15.7 million people have been arrested for cannabis-related offenses over the past decade.
- $ 47 billion is spent annually on the war on drugs.
- $ 10.4 billion was generated in legal cannabis sales in 2018 in the United States
New Jersey police, for example, have filed more than 6,000 charges for minor possession of cannabis in the three months since nearly 3 million voters approved cannabis legalization on November 3, 2020. That’s true – after voters legalized it and despite the fact that legislators and Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, worked hard to create and implement a framework for a legal industry.
The state spends on average $ 143 million per year to enforce cannabis prohibition, and this is not only a misuse of resources, but also exacerbates the negative impacts that this “war” has already caused.
Not only do we falsely imprison tens of thousands of people a year – who are convicted of activity that is no longer a crime – but we also spend billions of dollars trying to uphold an archaic movement that has affected disproportionately communities of color, and no longer represents the views of the overwhelming majority majority of Americans.
Justice for the victims of the war on drugs
I have worked in the legal cannabis industry for over a decade and my business, KushCo Holdings, will benefit from legalization. However, despite the financial rewards that may exist, our greatest goal is justice for those affected by this failed war on drugs, which has primarily deprived people of color of their rights.
For pure racial and social justice, cannabis should be legalized federally – and soon. Republicans had a crucial chance to get it right under the Trump administration, but chose not to promote justice, despite Republican Congressmen David Joyce and Don Young presenting a bill that would legalize cannabis at the federal level in a way similar to alcohol. While this effort was viewed by some cannabis policy experts as an encouraging step forward, it is sorely lacking in any meaningful social justice provision.
Brittany Barnett:Free those incarcerated under draconian marijuana laws
That leaves it up to President Biden and the new Democrat-controlled Congress to clean up decades of bad politics and grave injustice.
But legalizing cannabis isn’t just about ending injustice.
Given the devastating economic damage COVID-19 has caused – and continues to cause – state and federal budgets have been decimated, unemployment remains high, and our economy needs a massive catalyst to accelerate the road to recovery. Even stubborn opponents of cannabis cannot deny the industry’s profoundly positive impact on the U.S. economy, having employed 321,000 Americans in 2021, and generate over $ 3 billion in tax revenue in 2020 alone.
States and localities are clearlyprofiting on all social and economic fronts, and it’s time to move forward with cannabis.
Overall, there has never been a more critical time to legalize cannabis at the federal level, as we recover from a damaging pandemic, while proactively addressing some of the social unrest that has afflicted our country in recent months. The numbers speak for themselves, but more importantly, it’s the right thing to do. Fortunately, more and more politicians are finally starting to realize and accept what virtually everyone in the United States has known for years: Legalizing cannabis can positively support our economy, our communities, and our people.
Nick Kovacevich is Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of KushCo Holdings Inc. Follow him on Twitter: @nickkovacevich