A Win for Stoners — The Decriminalization of Weed
The future’s looking a bit higher
( Rick Proctor / Unsplash )
This year’s presidential election could only be described as a four-day long roller coaster, but now that Joe Biden has been declared the president-elect and we can all breathe a sigh of relief, it's time we take a look at another history-making outcome of this year’s national elections.
Four states (Montana, Arizona, New Jersey, and South Dakota) have legalized weed for recreational purposes; Now, it’s legal in a total of 15 states to get as high as you'd like.
Weed's come a long way. Maybe it's because people realized it's a viable treatment for chronic pain and other medical issues; Maybe it's because people realized driving while stoned is not nearly as bad as driving while drunk; Or maybe it’s because people realized THC is magic in chemical form. Who knows!
Regardless, now two-thirds of Americans are in support of its legalization and President-elect Joe Biden has embraced its decriminalization. It's a big win for stoners across America, but more importantly it's a big step towards ending the racial disparities among arrests for possession of marijuana and among rejections for med cards to smoke marijuana. Let's break down what this all means.
What does decriminalizing weed look like?
This would means that people would no longer be able to get arrested, serve prison time, or have a criminal record for the first-time possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal consumption. As of right now, most states that have already decriminalized weed treat a first offense like a minor traffic violation.
This is good news for stoners everywhere, but especially those subject to the racial disparity in marijuana possession arrests. Drug possession, including marijuana, has historically been used to criminalize Black communities and fuel the mass incarceration crisis that exists within the United States.
A 2020 analysis by the American Civil Liberties Union concluded that “Black people are 3.64 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession.” The decriminalization and legalization of weed for medical and recreational purposes won’t automatically better law enforcement’s treatment of African Americans, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
And what does this have to do with a med card?
Racial discrepancies exist not only in marijuana possession arrests, but also in the current process of obtaining a medical card. Currently, weed is legal for medical use in 36 states. In most states where weed is legal only for medical use, you are required to pay a fee in order to obtain a med card.
This exacerbates the issue of racial minorities being disproportionately arrested for marijuana possession since, according to the State of Working America, African Americans and Hispanics have the highest poverty rates.
In states where it is only legal to smoke for medical purposes, owning a med card becomes a privilege that usually only white people can afford.
The decriminalization of weed — or better yet the legalization of weed possession — would definitely be a step towards alleviating this discriminatory system.
This year’s national elections could only best be described as unprecedented. Joe Biden received over 74 million votes, more than any other president in history. Kamala Harris became the first female Vice President, the first Black Vice President, and the first South Asian Vice President. Sarah McBride became the first trans state senator and weed is now decriminalized and/or legalized for recreational use in more states than ever before. To put things bluntly ( pun intended), I’m cautiously optimistic that after the dystopian nightmare that was Donald Trump’s presidency, America is back on the right track.
Taesha Jones is an Editorial Print and Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. She enjoys hanging out with her cat, reading fiction novels, applying lipgloss, and memorizing female rap verses. Her passions include combatting racial injustice, raising cultural awareness, and promoting a more diversified society. Dm her on Instagram @taeeesha or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.