Will Jones III: Legalizing Marijuana isn’t about Social Justice

Poppot.org 4 October 2019
Family First Comment: Calls to legalize marijuana often lead with the cry of social justice. Many advocates argue that legalization will right the wrongs of our racist past in the criminal justice system. In reality, legalization would make our society much less just than it is now. Legalization would lead to increased commercialization of marijuana, playing into the hands of an intoxicating, addictive, for-profit industry that is appropriating problems of systemic injustice to the tune of billions of dollars in profits.

Calls to legalize marijuana often lead with the cry of social justice. Many advocates argue that legalization will right the wrongs of our racist past in the criminal justice system.

In reality, legalization would make our society much less just than it is now. Legalization would lead to increased commercialization of marijuana, playing into the hands of an intoxicating, addictive, for-profit industry that is appropriating problems of systemic injustice to the tune of billions of dollars in profits. Pennsylvania should instead focus on decriminalization.

Marijuana commercialization advocates have shrewdly pointed to ethnically disparate arrest rates that show African-Americans are disproportionately targeted for enforcement of marijuana laws. While the problems they highlight are painfully true, their solution is both ineffective and disingenuous. It does nothing to punish, prosecute, or remove individuals or institutions with records of racism and discriminatory law enforcement practices – true reform. Instead, it creates a predatory industry that targets communities of color and other disadvantaged communities with an over saturation of ads and stores likes its predecessors Big Tobacco, the alcohol industry, and the lottery.

When I walk out the front door of my home the first store that I get to in any direction is a liquor store. Going a bit further, when I get to a convenience store, it is so plastered with advertisements for liquor, cigarettes, and the lottery that I can’t even see inside the windows.

A study from Johns Hopkins University found that, “such stores have been shown to be an important component of the social infrastructure that destabilizes communities.” We shouldn’t be celebrating legislation that permits irresponsible, predatory industries marketing another intoxicating and addictive substance to embed itself in our communities.

As they anticipate and push for federal legalization, major alcohol brands including HeinekenMolson CoorsBlue Moon, and Corona have already invested billions in the marijuana industry. And to quote marijuana investors, “this is only the beginning.”

Big Tobacco isn’t standing by either. In 2018, Altria, the parent company to Phillip Morris, invested over a billion dollars in marijuana and subsequently invested another several billion in Juul, the vaping company that is now being investigated by the FDA for their marketing practices that have created a near epidemic of teen vaping. The CDC has now linked marijuana vapes to a majority of over 800 cases of a mysterious lung ailment and at least two of twelve subsequent deaths.
READ MORE: https://poppot.org/2019/10/04/legalizing-marijuana-isnt-about-social-justice/