American values and beliefs about marijuana legalization


American values and beliefs about marijuana legalization

4 June 2024
Parabola Center for Law and Policy
RTI International

To date, marijuana has been legalized for adult use in 24 states, and advocates are continuing to push for legalization nationwide. Before federal legalization occurs, it is important to preemptively examine who will benefit from marijuana legalization and what policies will need to be put in place to ensure equitable access to marijuana and equitable distribution of profits from the marijuana industry. In the context of the cannabis industry, equity means support for individuals and communities who have been harmed by cannabis criminalization and the War on Drugs.

Good marijuana policies will protect public health, promote economic justice, and prevent exploitation of workers in the cannabis industry. These policies will recognize that some communities, particularly communities of color, have been disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs and aim to repair that harm through social and economic means. Good policies will also prevent large, private businesses from exerting too much influence on a burgeoning industry.

Historically, policies championed by large businesses including the tobacco, alcohol, and pharmaceutical industries have led to large profits for those industries, pushed out small business owners, and negatively impacted vulnerable communities. These industries, along with others with financial interests, are trying to exert influence on upcoming policy changes.