- Hammond Lewis
Why Decriminalization of Marijuana Directly Affects Black Americans
Louisiana legalized medical marijuana in 2019 and has since installed two cannabis cultivators and 9 pharmacies licensed to sell medical marijuana. Patients who have been diagnosed with a qualifying condition for medical marijuana in Louisiana can apply for a medical cannabis certification and legally purchase and possess medical marijuana products.
And while Louisiana has joined the group of states that have moved towards a form of cannabis legalization, it remains illegal for people to possess cannabis without a certification in Louisiana and possession can incur significant penalties in the Pelican State.
Especially for Black Americans, who are statistically more likely to be affected by marijuana laws, the criminalization of cannabis at any level can significantly impact lives and communities.
In this article, we’ll look at how decriminalization can affect Black Americans, how disproportionate sentencing can overpopulate prisons, and how cannabis criminalization can cause more racial disparity in the school system.
Black Americans & Cannabis Criminalization
Black Americans are Disproportionately Arrested for Cannabis
When the criminalization of cannabis is pursued, Black Americans are the most affected by penalties.
In the whole country, Black Americans are nearly 4x more likely than white Americans to be arrested for marijuana.
And for Louisiana, in 2016, Black adults made up over 30% of Louisiana’s adult population but comprised over half of the adults who were arrested in the year.
When cannabis is criminalized, Black Americans and Black communities suffer the most, and with over 30% of Louisiana’s adult population being Black, those are significant numbers.
Black Youth are Targeted for Cannabis Use Despite Similar Use Among White Peers
Young people should avoid using cannabis unless directed to do so by a doctor, because there are mechanisms in the central nervous system that can be impacted by cannabis use at a young age.
And despite falling rates of cannabis use among teens in states that legalize, teens will smoke cannabis and always have. According to 2018 data in Colorado, drug related violations made up around 5% – 6% of all student suspensions, but cannabis accounted for around 70% of suspensions or expulsions for drugs.
With such a high connection between suspensions and expulsions, cannabis use in colleges or high schools with “zero tolerance” policies can disproportionately affect Black youth and significantly impact low-income families while being much more manageable by wealthier families.
Black Americans & Cannabis Decriminalization
Laws that Take Advantage of Racial-Bias Can Be Restructured
Often, when a state moves to legalize cannabis in some capacity, decriminalization efforts are not far behind.
And that’s the case with Louisiana too, with institutions like the New Orleans Police Department recently deciding to stop writing citations for simple marijuana possession altogether.
We know that Black Americans are more likely to be involved with marijuana criminal offenses at a disproportionate rate, and decriminalizing cannabis solves this problem for everyone.
By removing the laws that penalize cannabis use, Louisiana can move towards a more equitable future for its communities.
Record Expungement Changes Lives, and Futures
Another critical component of a fair and equitable cannabis industry is to have record expungement as a minimum requirement, not an option.
When states look to decriminalize cannabis use, they are often confronted with the very real facts that there will be people serving prison time at that moment for an offense that decriminalization will clear for everyone else.
Leaving citizens behind on the trail to legalization is not the way that Louisiana (or any state) should pursue, and when areas consider legalization efforts it should be alongside record expungement.
And especially for people of color, because there are more Black Americans in prison for marijuana offenses than any other group of people in the country, making record expungement a necessary part of decriminalization that makes meaningful change.
Get Your Louisiana Medical Marijuana Certification
Louisiana offers legal access to medical marijuana for patients who have been diagnosed with a qualifying condition. Patients can consult with one of our qualified doctors and receive a certification for legal medical marijuana use in Louisiana.
Possession of medical marijuana without a certification from a doctor is illegal in Louisiana, and the only way to access cannabis legally is by having a medical marijuana certification.
Beat the lines and get your medical marijuana certification in Louisiana today, and you can even get certified for medical marijuana online for ease of use and convenience.
For questions about Louisiana’s medical marijuana program, or how to become a medical marijuana patient in Louisiana, consult with one of our trusted doctors and book an online medical marijuana appointment today!
Doctors Who Care.
Relief You Can Trust.
At Louisiana Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
Call us at (833) 253-2943, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
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