IMPACT ON RACIAL JUSTICE
The commercial marijuana industry has created a false dichotomy between legalization and social justice.
Lawmakers can remove criminal penalties, expunge records, and reform enforcement mechanisms without normalizing drug use and opening the door for commercialized marijuana products to be sold in our state.
The promise that legalization would create new economic opportunities for marginalized communities have not come to fruition in any state.
Legalization has failed to deliver on promises to provide reconciliation to communities that have been harmed by disparate enforcement of marijuana laws.
In Colorado, arrest disparities have not changed in any meaningful way since the state legalized marijuana in 2012. A 2021 analysis produced by the Colorado Department of Public Safety found that the marijuana arrest rate for Black people (160 per 100,000) was more than double that of white people (76 per 100,000) in 2019. Similar disparities persist for juveniles arrested for marijuana-related issues.[i]
A 2016 report by NPR revealed that following legalization, the marijuana arrest rate in Colorado for white 10- to 17-year-olds fell by nearly 10 percent from 2012 to 2014, while arrest rates for Latino and black youths respectively rose more than 20 percent and more than 50 percent.[ii]
Legalization would exacerbate problems with a negative health outcomes and addiction in the black community.
A 2020 study found that adolescent marijuana use among young Blacks in urban communities is associated with future opioid misuse.