“While drug policy on the federal level is going backwards, San Fransico is once again taking the lead to undo the damage that this country’s disastrous, failed drug war has had on our nation and on communities of color in particular,” George Gascon, San Francisco’s chief District Attorney said in a statement.
Recreational marijuana (personal use) is now legal in California. Citizens can grow up to six plants in their private residence or buy up to 28.5 grams. This is a result of California’s Proposition 64.
This is a huge step towards criminal justice reform and California will again pave the way. California is the future! The new law allows for those convicted of marijuana to petition the court to dismiss the charges. In San Francisco, however, Gascon is taking the initiative to review 3,038 misdemeanor charges and 4,940 felony convictions. This means that those convicted don’t have to petition the court and pay attorney fees but the state will do it for them.
Marijuana arrests have disproportionately affected African American communities for a long time. According to Cannabis Equity Report, in the year 2000 when marijuana arrests skyrocketed, 41% of arrests were black people but blacks were only 8% of the city’s population. Likewise, 77% of people arrested in 2015 for marijuana in Oakland were black.
To combat this statistic, cities like Oakland prioritized giving dispensary licenses to those with past pot-related convictions.
The possible future for African-Americans after marijuana legalization
After DC legalized marijuana, 108 of 128 arrests for smoking pot in public were black people. The laws make it so weed is legal on private property. However, because blacks own homes at lower rates than whites, smoking outside is often their only option. Many private communities and apartment complexes ban smoking (even cigarettes) on the property.
Criminal justice reform is making progress as some are realizing the discriminatory war on drugs was a failure. Remember, we elect the people who make the laws. Always, get out and vote!