Good on The Baltimore Sun Editorial Board for acknowledging that Maryland putting cannabis legalization on the ballot doesn’t actually weed out the existing discrimination and disparities of criminalization (“Legal cannabis in Maryland: still a work in progress,” April 4).
Companion legislation to the voter referendum will expunge past cannabis convictions, but proposals to allocate profits of legalization to communities that have been impacted by a history of discriminatory criminalization all failed. Black people are more than twice as likely to be arrested for cannabis possession as whites. There needs to be explicit provisions in future legislation for reimbursing, compensating and properly investing in communities who have been harmfully impacted by racist policy.
Additionally, criminal penalties are still in place for small amounts until November 2023. This, coupled with a lack of provisions that prevent police from using cannabis odor as a basis for a search, leaves gaping holes in “fixing” the problem.
Without a firm call to action to invest in equity, “decriminalization” is looking pretty half-baked.
Amy Hauer, Baltimore
The writer is a student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health Public Health.
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