Since the legalization of weed in some states, the recreational use of marijuana has been more normalized. In 2018, California legalized the recreational use of weed and since then, more dispensaries and delivery businesses have started—including Kannafleur and Only Good Weed. But why does cannabis stigma exist?
Cannabis Stigma Exists because of the War on Drugs
In our article on cannabis reform and the over-policing of BIPOC, we briefly explained how Nixon’s War on Drugs has criminalized the use of weed in order to imprison Black and brown people. Nixon’s motive with the War on Drugs was to stop BIPOC from unionizing and protesting against the Vietnam war. Since then, over-policing has been an issue for BIPOC communities and neighborhoods. Black people are almost 4 times more likely to get arrested for drug charges than white people—even though the use of drugs is similar between Black and white people.
This hysteria continued to follow after Nixon’s presidency. Under Reagan’s presidency, “nonviolent drug offenses increased from 50,000 in 1980 to over 400,000 by 1997”. In 1994, Clinton passed the largest crime bill in history—mandatory minimums. Mandatory minimums “is a sentence, created by Congress or a state legislature, which the court must give to a person convicted of a crime, no matter what the unique circumstances of the offender or the offense are”. This law increased the sentences for many nonviolent drug offenders to be lifelong. In 2017, it was reported by the United States Sentencing Commission that “almost half of all federal inmates were drug offenders and nearly three-quarters of those drug offenders in prison were convicted of a drug mandatory minimum penalty”. Today, many people imprisoned for marijuana are non-violent and otherwise law-abiding offenders.
How to stop the stigma
Weed may be legalized in California, but people are still imprisoned for unfair and non-violent drug charges today. We must continue to fight for cannabis reform. We recommend following the Last Prisoner Project in order to “fight criminal justice and reimagine drug policy”. We also recommend buying cannabis from black-owned businesses like Kannafleur and Only Good Weed. In the end, we call on all cannabis users to fight for cannabis reform and to buy weed cautiously.