Facts and Recommendations: How Cannabis legalization can be used to repair the damage to co mmunities worst affected by the US War on Drugs

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The war on drugs is a war against people of color. Although it encompasses numerous substances with detrimental and addictive effects, no substance has been quite so targeted in this fight than Cannabis, and no groups have been so differentially harmed in the enforcement of its policies than black and brown communities. In most cases, the governing powers are oblivious of the facts and border on cynicism when this issue is raised. The so-called war was a futile exercise that not only failed to bring about positive change but deepened the inequalities that exist between the privileged and underprivileged communities in American society. Futile because the war on drugs has failed to bring about the expected positive change in terms of reduced drug (narcotic) use. This letter is a plea to the New York State to reexamine the end goals of cannabis legalization and use this as an opportunity to right the wrongs that were brought about by the so called war on drugs. The objective is to provide a framework for formulating policies that will help the affected people groups recover and be in a position to reap equal rewards from the legalization of cannabis. Without such measures, these communities will continue to bear the brunt of cannabis prohibition and the war on drugs years on without hope for a recourse. To begin this recovery journey, conventional wisdom and logic needs to be critiqued. Cannabis legalization, in and of itself, does not equal social justice. Legalization, even at the federal level, will only equal social justice if the government and other stakeholders prioritize affirmative action and other measures that will create equitable opportunities for participation in the legal cannabis market. This necessitates understanding the root cause of the problem and dealing with it head on without fear, favor, or prejudice. Is the State of New York willing and ready to do this? Or does it lack sufficient incentive to do this?

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Morreale, Steven

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Master of Professional Studies

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