In a detailed article published recently, Human Rights Watch, an international nonprofit has voiced its support for ending cannabis prohibition federally. It says putting an end to cannabis prohibition would allow federal drug policies in the United States to be grounded in health, harm reduction and human rights.
Strides have been made to do so, with the House of Representatives making history during the last session when it passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE) Act. The approval of this measure made this the first time Congress voted to end the federal prohibition of cannabis, which has led to hundreds of thousands of individuals being incarcerated and torn apart immigrant families.
The House is set to vote on a recently introduced version of the MORE Act. The measure’s approval would advance overdue reform in the criminal legal system. Human Rights Watch, a global nongovernmental organization that advocates for human rights, has documented the extreme racial disparities in the imprisonment and arrests for drug offenses in the U.S. for a long time now. The organization released a report in 2016 that found that every 25 seconds, a person was arrested for drug possession in the country, noting that Black individuals were almost three times as likely to be arrested because of drug possession in comparison to white individuals despite using drugs at a similar rate.
The report, which was compiled in collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union, noted that the biggest portion of these drug arrests was cannabis-related.
Since that time, however, numerous states have legalized cannabis for recreational and/or medical use, with analysts finding that the increase in cannabis legalization at the state level has brought about a considerable reduction in cannabis arrests in a number of states. However, while cannabis-related arrests have reduced on a national scale, figures show that in 2020, about 350,100 arrests for cannabis-related violations were recorded. Most of these arrests were for simple possession, with a report that was recently released by the American Civil Liberties Union showing that racial disparities in cannabis arrests for both sale and possession remained severe.
The MORE Act brings the U.S. closer to a criminal legal system that respects individual rights and promotes racial equity and justice, according to Human Rights Watch. The measure would end the federal prohibition of cannabis, address the consequences of cannabis criminalization and repair the harms caused by the drug war on various communities in America.
HRW says members of Congress need to listen to the various organizations calling for reform and cosponsor the measure. House Leadership is also expected to bring the legislation to the floor for a vote soon. If the bill is successfully passed and enacted into law, sector actors like American Cannabis Partners could accelerate their growth across the country as a result of the reforms passed.
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