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Black Lives Matter Sparks Conversation about Cannabis Policy Reform

Cities across the United States have revisited their cannabis policies in recent months. This has happened because of the Black Lives Matter protests over racial inequality and police brutality. The protests in early June; which were ignited by the murder of George Floyd, many states have changed their laws surrounding cannabis regulation.

Nashville, Tennessee stopped prosecuting minor marijuana possession cases altogether. In Portland, Oregon, where the possession and use of recreational cannabis has been legal since 2015, they have redirected all cannabis tax revenue away from the Portland Police Bureau. In Colorado, where cannabis was voted to be legalised in 2012, they have begun to address social equity and scrap old cannabis convictions. Sonoma County, California and the state of New York has begun to erase cannabis criminal records from people who were imprisoned for non-violent crimes.

Black Americans have been badly affected by cannabis enforcement for decades, and are four times more likely to be arrested than white people, despite the fact that both groups have similar usage rates. Lawmakers and advocacy groups say the racial justice protests have persuaded elected officials to support drug policy changes and started new conversations about cannabis policy reform.

Key Terms

  1. Equity

  2. Cannabis

  3. War on Drugs

  4. Regulation

  5. Policy reform

Key Questions

  1. What is equity?

  2. Should there be reparations for families that have been prosecuted for non-violent crimes that are now legal?

  3. Should cannabis be legal?

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