EP25: Head in the Clouds – Black People and Legal Marijuana

The plant goes by many names but the question is simple — does legalizing marijuana help or hurt the Black community?

Aidil, like many of us, was first told that marijuana is a gateway drug when she was in grade school. Ritney says the church calls it the Devil’s lettuce. The reputation marijuana has in our society has evolved; marijuana is now considered to be medicine and acceptable for recreational use. 

States like New York and Ohio are already looking at how the tax revenue from recreational marijuana will be profitable for their states. More conservative states, like Mississippi and Arkansas, are observing the possibilities that come with legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. 

Decriminalization is progress in one direction — it keeps people from serving time for nonviolent crimes and having unnecessary interactions with police. However, what happens to those who are already serving time for marijuana-related charges? 

In 2019, of those arrested for drug possession charges, most of them were connected to marijuana. Oftentimes, the people charged are from Black and brown communities and serve longer sentences; as Aidil mentions in this podcast, ‘jail is bad for your public health.’ 

How is your state handling marijuana use? 

Send your thoughts and feedback to info@centerforblackhealth.org