The Marijuana Justice Act Provides Hope for Equity and Advancement

The legislation would steer the country in the right direction, away from the failed War on Drugs.

Cory Booker. Illustration by James the Stanton

On August 1, Senator Cory Booker introduced an audacious piece of legislation, the Marijuana Justice Act. It would introduce sweeping changes for cannabis on the federal level. At the top of the list: descheduling cannabis—legalizing it once and for all. In an impassioned live video on Facebook, Booker pointed out the various failures of The War on Drugs: wasted tax money, hindered communities, and lives ruined. “You see these marijuana arrests happening so much in our country,” he said, “targeting certain communities—poor communities, minority communities—targeting people with an illness.”

But the bill goes much further. Booker’s legislation provides a process for expunging people’s records for federal marijuana use and possession crimes, and those currently serving time would be able to petition for a resentencing. Truly, this is the type of legislation that could change the fates of whole families and communities. As federal convictions are removed from people’s records, their hindrances are removed and a host of rights are restored: the right to vote, the right to do business with the government, and the right to join the armed forces, to name just a few.

The MJA also takes a hard look at communities damaged by the War on Drugs, creating what Sen. Booker calls a “community reinvestment fund,” funneling money into those cities and neighborhoods hit hardest. The money would be dedicated to building re-entry centers for those coming out of prison and job-training centers, as well as other neighborhood resources like libraries and community centers. “Our country’s drug laws are badly broken and need to be fixed,” Senator Booker said. “They don’t make our communities any safer–instead they divert critical resources from fighting violent crimes, tear families apart, unfairly impact low-income communities and communities of color, and waste billions in taxpayer dollars each year.”

Not satisfied with restoring people’s rights and giving power back to damaged communities, Booker’s legislation would encourage states to do even more by tying federal tax money to incarceration records—cutting money for state law enforcement and prison construction if a state has a disproportionate arrest and/or incarceration record for low-income individuals and/or people of color for marijuana offenses. And, in perhaps the sweetest twist, Booker also includes provisions for people to sue states with disproportionate arrest and conviction rates.

Yet another benefit the country could reap from this bill: Widespread legalization could be the tool health-care workers need to fight the opioid epidemic. A new survey conducted by Brightfield Group and HelloMD asked the largest group of CBD users yet—2,400 people—about their use of “traditional” medicines as well as medicinal CBD. Forty-two percent of CBD users said they had completely replaced using medications like Tylenol or Vicodin in favor of CBD. Other recent studies have shown a 23 percent drop in the number of opioid-dependent patients hospitals are treating in states that have legalized medical cannabis.

Senator Booker faces a nearly impossible battle as we deal with an ultra-conservative GOP-controlled Congress, but support for cannabis, medicinal and recreational, is at an all-time high in America. Perhaps this is the catalyst that will finally get the U.S. Government to catcha fire.

stashbox@seattleweekly.com

More in Eat Drink Toke

Illustration by James the Stanton
Deep Purple

Purple weed looks cool, but is its beauty only skin deep?

Deli Bellies

Seattle’s deli scene leaves a lot to be desired, but new options look to spice things up.

On May 28, Phnom Penh Noodle House will be closing its doors after 30 years of Cambodian cooking. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Phnom Penh Noodle House’s Closure and the Loss of Cultural Flavor

The restaurant’s end may be a loss for Seattle foodies, but it’s devastating for the local Cambodian community.

Illustration by James the Stanton
How Many Drug-Sniffing Dogs Will Be Killed By Cannabis Legalization?

Spoiler: None. It just turns out an Illinois police department is full of doggone liars.

A special three-course dinner at Goldfinch Tavern is just one option for celebrating Mother’s Day. Photo courtesy Goldfinch Tavern
Mother’s Day 2018 Event Planner

Whether she’s an early bird or a night owl, there’s more than enough happening around Seattle to keep mom active.

Go Up in Smoke

It’s time to clear cannabis conviction records.

The Strains of Spring

These eight cannabis varieties will compliment your seasonal vibes.

Illustration by James the Stanton/@gnartoons
Blunt Country

Now that it’s springtime, let’s get high and go outside.

Matthew Amster-Burton and Molly Wizenberg serve up food chatter and laughs on Spilled Milk. Photo by Morgen Schuler
Laughing Over ‘Spilled Milk’

How the comedic Seattle food podcast became a tasty audible treat.

Illustration by James the Stanton/@gnartoons
Seattle 4/20 Event Picks

Your calendar for all thing stoner-riffic!

Illustration by James the Stanton
10 Seattle Bites Under $10

A quick look at some of our favorite diverse cheap eats.

Chef Daniel Cox shows off the urban garden on top of Quality Athletics. Photo by Morgen Schuler
Roof-to-Table

Seattle restaurants spice up their menus by adding fresh ingredients grown in their own gardens.