“Cannabis is used as a pretext for thousands of police stops that happen daily in communities of color,” Karen O’Keefe, state policies director for the Marijuana Policy Project, told Marijuana Moment. “Removing cannabis as a justification for police interaction is a reform urgently needed to address systemic racism and abusive policing.”
“New Jersey is being really progressive in starting this conversation,” said DeVaughn Ward of the Marijuana Policy Project. “At two ounces, it would still be progress for the region. The reality is that for every increase is another life that could potentially be saved; somebody that could not be forced to encounter law enforcement.”
“It’s been busy!” Jared Moffat, campaigns coordinator with the Marijuana Policy Project working with Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, told Cannabis Wire regarding the revamped campaign. “We’ve been directing all circulators to follow safety measures (e.g. distancing, hand sanitizer, face covering, etc) to keep people safe. It seems the momentum has picked back up, though.”
DeVaughn Ward, senior legislative council for the Marijuana Policy Project, said on average, police in New Jersey arrest someone on marijuana charges once every 22 minutes. “This means that unless the Legislature enacts decriminalization between now and Election Day, thousands of New Jerseyans will have their lives turned upside-down by cannabis possession arrests,” Ward said.
Raising taxes too quickly and too high could lead people to turn to the well-established illegal cannabis market, Karen O'Keefe, director of state policies at Marijuana Policy Project, told Law360, saying that maximizing tax revenue should not be the sole focus of initial legalization. "Having a lower tax rate can certainly help steer people towards the legal regulated market," O'Keefe said.
“We will not fundamentally change policing practices in this country until we put an end to the war on drugs, and it starts with ending the prohibition on cannabis,” wrote Steve Hawkins, who heads up the Marijuana Policy Project, adding that legalization would eliminate the principle pretext for racist police stops. “While cannabis legalization alone will not save Black and Brown lives, it offers an opportunity to re-center policing away from a focus on the drug war to a focus on community healing and positive relationship-building. In that, there is hope.”
Matt Schweich with the Marijuana Policy Project, a group who helped South Dakotan's for Better Marijuana Laws get Constitutional Amendment A on the ballot, says this is what the people of South Dakota want.
Most state legislatures are out of session. But Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for Marijuana Policy Project, expects them to address cannabis and criminal justice issues with more urgency when they return.