It's been almost a decade since Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana. That's given economists and other researchers enough time to study the effects of the policy. Here are some of the most interesting findings.
"The hope was that with the ‘essential’ designation, there would be more recognition that cannabis was here to stay, that there was strong consumer preference for it," said Steve Hawkins, MPP's executive director.
Produced by Vanity Fair with PAX Labs, this three-part docuseries delves into how U.S. drug policy — and specifically cannabis prohibition — over the last century has been a driver of racial inequality, unjust incarceration, and devastating harm to communities and people of color. In Part One, leaders from the Last Prisoner Project, Marijuana Policy Project, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, and Brookings Institution uncover the racist origins of the war on drugs and explain how these dangerous policies, dating as far back as the early 1900s, have shaped our carceral system to this day.
"My reaction was relief and joy. I do this work to help medical marijuana patients and today we helped them. And I also feel humbled by the incredible support that South Dakotans have provided to our effort. I’ve worked in many states on marijuana reform over the last six years and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such passionate and dedicated activism from grassroots supporters. They are incredible and this win belongs to them," said Matthew Schweich, MPP's deputy director.
Opinion piece from Steven Hawkins, MPP Executive Director and Interim President and Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Cannabis Council: "The war on cannabis has filled our jails and prisons with non-violent 'offenders,' disproportionately emptying minority neighborhoods. Aggressive policing of cannabis has unleashed on communities of color dangerous tactics, such as the no-knock warrant that led to the death of Breonna Taylor. And mere reference to cannabis use has been leveraged to dehumanize countless individuals, including George Floyd whose positive post mortem test for cannabis had nothing to do with his murder."
"The hope is that these provisions will prevent the over-policing of Black and brown communities in giving law enforcement a tool to discriminate and bring about injustice. By eliminating this tool that’s been used in this way, I think that it will mean fewer pretextual stops, fewer arrests," said DeVaughn Ward, MPP's senior legislative counsel.
"These archaic arguments seem very unlikely to influence Gov. Northam's thinking on the issue. Most lawmakers in Richmond appear to understand that regulating cannabis sales will actually protect children and families. When Virginia's law is fully implemented, the system of regulated sales will restrict access to underage consumers, and it will produce substantial tax revenue that will help fund early childhood education for at-risk children and other important priorities," said Matt Simon, MPP's senior legislative analyst.
"It could very well be that we see the end of federal prohibition. If, for whatever reason, that does not happen, there is going to be banking reform and other reasons that will make it easier for the cannabis industry to flourish," said Steve Hawkins, MPP's executive director.
Hip-hop artist turned cannabis entrepreneur Jay-Z has launched a national awareness campaign to highlight the political hypocrisy surrounding marijuana laws.
Having launched a cannabis brand called Monogram last year, the artist is now spreading his message with posters in Miami and across the U.S. The signs point out that prohibitionist cannabis laws are more widespread and harsh in some states than laws on bestiality and first-cousin marriage.
"It is morally wrong to continue to treat Alabamians who suffer from serious medical conditions as criminals for using a substance that is now legal in 36 states. However, we urge lawmakers to revise the provisions of the bill that create significant barriers for patients and their physicians," said Karen O'Keefe, MPP's director of state policies.