Representing the underrepresented is necessary in every industry, and aspect of life. With discrimination against people of color, women, Muslims, LGBTQ, even veterans and elders, advocacy for legalization of cannabis must not end at simply being able to buy and smoke marijuana legally.
As a Black woman exploring the industry with no company or major organization representing me, I see firsthand the obstacles many communities aforementioned may experience. Not surprising, because they face the same issues in many other industries.
Being arrested can ruin your life. Let’s get that understood, right now. BEING ARRESTED CAN RUIN YOUR LIFE. Think about it, unless you study law, criminal law, you are probably breaking the law everyday. There’s no class in high school or college that teaches every single law of the state that you live in, unless that is your major or academic focus. This goes the same for interaction with law enforcement. Everything from jaywalking to blowing your nose on a crowded train are actual laws in some states, but how would one know it until being apprehended for it by law enforcement? And with Black people being the population with a higher probability of being pulled over or apprehended than any other race, guess who is most likely to get arrested for cannabis?
Oh, this isn’t a race rant, this affects everyone. In 2014, police arrested someone for marijuana every 51 seconds. That’s taxpayer dollars and police protection being used to arrest for mostly small amounts while violent crimes, rapes, and robberies get overlooked. Over $3.6 billion is spent each year on marijuana law enforcement alone. The situation is serious, people.
Illinois lawmakers have already shown advocacy for decriminalization. State Representative Kelly Cassidy filed an amendment to House Bill 2353 earlier this year that modifies the bill to focus more on relaxed offenses, revenue generation, and the rights of cannabis users. State Representative Marcus Evans filed an amendment to House Bill 183, which allows a person who commits a cannabis crime petition to expunge their record of such penalties. For great articles from http://www.illinoispolicy.org, click below:
Felonies take away right to life. Not being able to get a loan, a job, or even vote are some of the obstacles people face, plus the fees needed for record expungement. Our state, our nation, needs REAL change when it comes to the perspective of criminalization in general. In terms of cannabis, those modifications need to be immediate, and proper regulation needs to be implemented.
Advocacy starts with our relationships with our politicians, and each other. It’s time we are vocal about the need for changes in legislation. Write letters to Congress, get to know your state reps, encourage your aldermen to hold informational meetings and events. The possibilities are endless. Do I get the side-eye when I mention I’m an activist for cannabis? Sure, but once the facts are understood, it’s obvious that legalizing cannabis is way more than just legalizing cannabis.
Peace and bud.