Cannabis Legalization Must Include Cannabis Equity

Article by Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, The Conversation

Cannabis legalization must include cannabis equity May 14, 2019 6.50pm EDT A flag is flown during the annual marijuana 420 gathering in Toronto Nathan Denette

Canada’s federal government is currently working to pass a bill that would provide pardons for people convicted of minor cannabis possession. With a federal election around the corner, it may be too little, too late.

As a result of mounting pressure, Canada’s federal government is now struggling to pass this bill before politicians leave the capital for the summer break.

If the bill does not pass, it is unlikely to do so before a national election this fall, leaving tens of thousands of lives hanging in the balance.

Racialized law enforcement

It has been a little over six months since Canada legalized recreational cannabis, and by most accounts this national experiment has been a relative success. What Canadian legalization still lacks, however, are the important measures needed to repair the damage caused by almost a century of prohibition.

American legislators should take note.

As is the case in many other jurisdictions, Canadian drug law enforcement is heavily racialized. Data gathered from Toronto and other major Canadian cities show that Black and Indigenous people have been arrested for minor cannabis possession at rates as high as five and nine times that of whites, respectively.

This means that Black and Indigenous people have been disproportionately burdened with the outcomes of a criminal record — reduced educational and employment opportunities, poorer housing prospects and travel restrictions — for engaging in an activity enjoyed by a significant proportion of the Canadian population.

Read the full article here.

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