As Marijuana Legalization Advances In The D.C. Region, Lawmakers Focus On Racial Equity

When talk of legalizing marijuana at the state level started a decade ago, many advocates and lawmakers were focused on how the programs would work and how much revenue they’d bring in. Now, those conversations have shifted: how can the programs and revenue work for Black and brown communities that have been most impacted by the war on drugs?

That shift is evident in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, where efforts to legalize sales of recreational marijuana are in various states of progress — but all of them are putting an emphasis on racial equity.

In all three jurisdictions, marijuana legalization measures now making their way through the legislative process would require automatic expungement of records for certain marijuana-related arrests and convictions, set aside growing and sales licenses for communities most impacted by the criminalization of cannabis, and mandate that a certain percentage of revenue from sales be reinvested in those communities.

In a bill introduced by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Friday, residents with a prior marijuana conviction would get preference points when applying for a new licenses to sell or grow, and those who have lived in Wards 7 or 8 for the preceding five years would get exclusive right to run marijuana delivery businesses. (The bill builds on a similar measure she introduced in 2019.) [Read more at DCist]

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