In 2020, many Americans are protesting criminal justice funding and tactics—some for the first time, growing and diversifying this coalition.
Leaders from the cannabis industry and industry-adjacent organizations have written and spoken about how the architects of the War on Drugs used cannabis as a means to imprison people of color and opponents of the Vietnam War and some of the effects of prohibition that continue today.
Seven out of 10 Americans now support legalization. Fifteen states and Washington, D.C., have legalized cannabis for adult use, and 36 states and D.C. have legalized medical cannabis, not including CBD-only states. Only a handful of states have not decriminalized.
However, prohibition continues to lead to disproportionate arrests of Black people, restrict job prospects and other opportunities in society for those who are arrested, and prevent prisoners from providing for their families. In states where cannabis is legal for adult use, people are serving time for cannabis offenses for which they were arrested before legalization.
Legalization activists continue the push to legalize cannabis federally, and in the meantime, in individual states, these efforts are gaining momentum, as evidenced by the fact that six pieces of legislation passed in five states last week to legalize adult-use and medical cannabis.
Also, on Election Night, voters decided on several criminal justice measures. Below are descriptions of some of them and how they relate specifically to cannabis.
Oklahoma – State Question 805
Oklahoma State Question 805, which would have limited allowable punishments for certain nonviolent felonies, failed 61.08% to 38.92%.
The initiative petition stated that except with regard to violent felonies, “a former conviction for one or more felonies shall not be used to enhance the statutorily allowable base range of punishment, including but not limited to minimum and maximum terms, for a person convicted, whether by