‘Commercialization Won Out’: Will Legal Marijuana be the Next Big Tobacco?

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Candi CdeBaca voted to legalize the free sale of marijuana in Colorado four years ago because she thought it would be good for her Denver neighborhood.

The Mexican American youth worker wanted an end to the police targeting of Latino and African American working class communities over drugs. She said cannabis was a problem for her neighborhood of Swansea but illegal dealing also provided one of the few economic opportunities for many of its residents.

So CdeBaca hoped that when Colorado became the first state in the nation to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana in 2014 it would not only keep people out of court, but also open up a legitimate means of earning a living. If there had to be a drug trade, at least Swansea could benefit.

Today she would vote differently.

“We have just swapped one kind of drug dealer for another,” said CdeBaca. “I believed it would positively impact communities of colour by decriminalizing it. So watching it unfold has been surprising.”

As CdeBaca sees it, all legalization has done is open the door to a takeover by corporate interests.

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