Ocasio-Cortez calls for marijuana legalization to include reparations for communities harmed by mass incarceration

Ocasio-Cortez

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) continued to be a champion for the people this week by calling for marijuana legalization to include investments in communities harmed by mass incarceration while also taking aim at the private prison industry.

The private prison industry is currently lobbying to keep marijuana illegal so that they can continue profiting from the petty arrests of those who possess only small amounts of marijuana.

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For years, marijuana laws have disproportionately affected African-American communities more than white communities because police are more likely to bust a black person instead of a white person carrying the same amount of marijuana.

During a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Wednesday, Ocasio-Cortez pointed out that most marijuana entrepreneurs in states such as Colorado and Massachusetts are dominated by white males while black communities get the shaft.

Clearly, there is a racial disparity within the marijuana industry partly caused by the overwhelming racial bias committed by law enforcement and the courts over the decades, which is why Ocasio-Cortez is suggesting industry should be legalized in ways that heal communities affected by this injustice:

Indeed, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU):

“Marijuana arrests now account for over half of all drug arrests in the United States. Of the 8.2 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010, 88% were for simply having marijuana. Nationwide, the arrest data revealed one consistent trend: significant racial bias. Despite roughly equal usage rates, Blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana.”

If the marijuana industry could work with banks in a way to allow investments in these communities, which is currently prohibited by federal law, it would go a long way toward healing. As would nationwide legalization and the expunging of records of all those who were imprisoned just having a joint or two.

Just like she did when she called out our criminal justice system over unfair prosecutorial tactics, Ocasio-Cortez is doing the same with marijuana legalization and the unfair criminalization of marijuana that resulted in racial bias among police that has put too many young black men in prison for no reason other than they possessed marijuana while black. The private prison industry wants to keep it that way, but Ocasio-Cortez is standing up to them.

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