Written by Lauren Rosier
Part one focuses on the prohibition of marijuana and its impact on law enforcement agencies, as well as illustrating how these outdated cannabis policies have fueled the over-policing of underserved and low-income neighborhoods, the militarization of our law enforcement agencies, and endless threats to America’s well-being.
The week of September 21, Congress has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to vote on legislation that would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act. The MORE Act would essentially end America’s century-long prohibition of cannabis.
Last Prisoner Project‘s Executive Director Sarah Gersten said, “A key focus of Last Prisoner Project is our direct service work to release currently incarcerated cannabis prisoners. Now, more than ever, it is imperative for us to also seize on the opportunity to reform our justice system through cannabis-related policy solutions that work to end the vicious cycle of Americans being caught up in every aspect of the criminal legal system. I am thrilled that Natalie Papillion is coming on board to lead LPP’s policy arm so that we can more effectively push for broad, systemic change.”
As headline after headline and data point after data point demonstrate, the War on Drugs has really always been a War on People. And more specifically, a war on Black and brown people,” said Natalie Papillion, the primary author of the paper. “As the paper illustrates, America’s current approach to cannabis has only served to animate and exacerbate many of the social injustices and racial inequities the country is grappling with today,” she adds. “It’s our sincere hope that Criminal Injustice gives policymakers the context, data, and analysis they need to end marijuana prohibition and further dismantle our discriminatory, expensive, and ineffective War on Drugs.”
Nearly 90% of Americans support the end to the country’s current marijuana prohibition. Despite this statistic, law enforcement agencies are focusing too much on nonviolent crimes and marijuana arrests. Over the last decade or so, American law enforcement agencies have made over 6 million arrests, in addition to over 15 million stops and citations, for marijuana possession. And what’s even more shocking, despite African-Americans and white Americans consuming cannabis at the same rate, African-Americans are 4 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.
“As Americans, we believe in the importance of liberty, opportunity, and equal justice under the law. Our ineffective and unjust policy of marijuana prohibition doesn’t just fail to live up to these values — it actively undermines them. Criminalizing people who use marijuana needlessly entangles millions of people in the criminal legal system each year at a tremendous societal cost,” Papillion added. “Taking a common-sense approach to cannabis policy will help combat injustice, protect our freedoms, and ensure the health, security, and prosperity of all American communities.”
The Last Prisoner Project is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to cannabis-related criminal justice reform. The Last Prisoner Project utilizes intervention, advocacy, and awareness campaigns to work to change the past and current harm of the inhumane and ineffective policies. Visit www.lastprisonerproject.org or text FREEDOM to 24365 to donate and learn more.