When will we get decriminalization and beyond?
Left, right and center the election is over so what now? States continue to fall when it comes to medical and adult use of cannabis, meaning citizens are making their voices heard and championing access to this plant. A Biden administration pledged to decriminalize cannabis. Decriminalization of cannabis means it would remain illegal, but the legal system would not prosecute a person for possession under a specified amount. Legalization of cannabis is the process of removing all legal prohibitions against it.
We can not let up - and we need to hold elected officials’ feet to the fire. One of the first things we need to ask of the Biden administration is how fast is that executive order of decriminalization going to happen. Time is of the essence. First day on the job we welcome the change. Here's a recap of what a President Biden administration promised to do during his campaign:
- Decriminalize the use of cannabis
- Automatically expunge all prior cannabis use convictions
- Support the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes
- Allow states to decide the legalization of cannabis for recreational use
- Reschedule cannabis as a schedule II drug so researchers can study its positive and negative impacts
More and more states continue to come onboard with complete legalization meaning both medical and adult use purposes. These newly minted states in 2020 that voted for allowing adult use include Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota. Latest states that voted for medical use were Mississippi and South Dakota.
It should not go unsaid that the election of President Biden is historical as the United States will have the first woman Vice President in Kamala Harris - who is the first Black woman, first Asian woman to hold the office.
This is significantly important in the cannabis industry because of how the War on Drugs legislation, which started in 1971, ripped apart the black family in the United States while building the modern day prison industrial complex. Because decriminalization does not equate to legalization, trust and believe all the same “-isms” and biases have not been undone and are at play. People of color continue to be targeted. With the change in laws do not think that the stigma and arrest rates for communities of color don’t still exist. And do not for one second think that as more startups and corporate money comes into the cannabis industry people of color are easily getting access to funding, support and information. All of those avenues still need to be fought for until… well until it doesn’t need to be fought for.
So what do we do on our side? The mandate is the same as it ever was, maybe even stronger. Euphoria of this historic election can not cause complacency.
- Phone calls to local, state and federal elected officials need to continue
- Community meetings still need to be attended
- Community access and reclamation boards still need to be formed
- People who believe in this plant who have innovative ideas and products need to be funded to bring their fruits to the market
- Small and midsize dispensaries need to be supported
- People of color and women still need equity stakes in the cannabis industry as business owners
Fighting for social justice needs to stay top of mind and action. Release and expunge for marijuana cases needs to happen cause we all know there are people getting rich off of what mainly people of color are sitting in jails and prisons for.
As legalization continues to roll out for both medical and adult use it garners a welcomed need for product regulation, more product variety, safe access to product and reduction of the stigma around cannabis use will inch closer to the forefront.
Lastly we have to continue to tell our stories of usage with the plant, acceptance will only come as more raise their voices. We are not to be feared, cannabis improves people’s lives.