After decades upon decades of doubling down on the insanity of the Drug War, it is so great to see our nation making progress at the local, state, and federal levels. Of course, the cannabis community really led the way with medical and adult use legislation putting together a rather impressive winning record at the ballot box since 1996, followed by legislative success in states that don’t have the initiative process. With a few localities like Denver and Washington, D.C., decriminalizing some plant psychedelic drugs and Oregon taking a real sledgehammer to the War on Drugs by decriminalizing all personal possession with Measure 110 last year, we are even seeing some positive movement at the federal level. Fresh off the U.S. House passing the historic MORE Act to end federal cannabis prohibition last year, the newly introduced People’s Justice Guarantee, includes legalizing cannabis and expunging old drug convictions, as Marijuana Moment reported:
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) is leading the measure, which calls for a series of policy changes that are meant to reduce mass incarceration and broadly reform the country’s criminal justice system. She introduced an initial version of resolution last Congress as well with the same drug-related language, but it did not advance.
Drug policy isn’t at the center of the broad proposal, which currently 17 initial cosponsors, but it is one component of a comprehensive call to action from the coalition of Democratic lawmakers. Pressley titled the resolution the “People’s Justice Guarantee,” and it aims to establish a “framework for a fair, equitable and just legal system.”
In order to reduce the incarcerated population, Congress should pursue “decriminalizing addiction, homelessness, poverty, HIV status, and disabilities, including mental health diagnosis, by legalizing marijuana and overdose prevention sites, declining to criminally prosecute low-level offenses such as loitering and theft of necessity goods, and expunging the records of individuals for all drug-related offenses,” the resolution states.
As Marijuana Moment notes, drug policy reform isn’t the sole mission of the People’s Justice Guarantee, but that’s actually a good thing in my opinion. Cannabis legalization and other progressive drug law fixes should be a part of the foundation towards justice, equality, and equity, putting ending the War on Drugs into a proper context. Too often, the debate around the Drug War focuses on drugs when the focus should be on the people. What do you want for your loved ones that use drugs? Do you want arrest, prison sentences, and a lack of educational and employment opportunities or do you want to provide treatment if they need it and preserve their chance of achieving the American Dream? A sincere thanks to Ayanna Pressley, Oregon’s own Earl Blumenauer, and everyone working to move this important legislation.