13 July, 2021

Why isn’t cannabis legalized?

icon cannabis,marijuana,prison labor
Why isn't cannabis legalized? Check the political donations and corporate greed that exploits poor people of color through racist criminalization policies and voter suppression.

You can be arrested for possessing even a small amount of marijuana in many states. Imprisoned. Forced to work for slave labor and denied your right to vote.

Who profits from this system that exploits the poor and uses Jim Crow style voter suppression? When in doubt, follow the money.

Who profits from filling for-profit prisons? What percentage of inmates are for minor, non-violent drug offenses? Can corporations legally hire inmates to work for 25 cents/hour? How do companies draft their own regulations and get politicians to make them into law? How much does the prison-industrial complex donate to politicians?

How are cannabis possession laws selectively enforced to target minority communities? Where can people charged with possessing cannabis of lose their right to vote even after they have served their sentences?

Racist marijuana policies and selective enforcement are used to fill for-profit prisons and disenfranchise Black and Brown voters.

Racist marijuana criminalization policies

Let's map the individuals and groups that profit from the current marijuana criminalization system and the impact of racist arrest policies on communities of color.

Prison industrial complex - Firms like CoreCivic and Geo Group that run for-profit prisons and benefit from having them full with inmates that can be hired out at prison labor wages.

Koch-funded A.L.E.C. - "Global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council. These so-called "model bills" reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations. In ALEC's own words, corporations have "a VOICE and a VOTE" on specific changes to the law that are then proposed in your state." - ALEC Exposed

Mitch McConnell and Republican National Committee - "Republicans all over the country have been working to weaken the ballot initiative process, a vital tool allowing citizens to enact policy they support without relying on lawmakers. They’ve been doing it lately by attacking initiatives to legalize cannabis, of which there have been plenty considering the issue’s growing popularity among conservative voters but not conservative lawmakers." - Rolling Stone

Marijuana criminalization, cheap prison labor & voter suppression

Political donations and voter suppression drive racist cannabis criminalization policies.

Embed this StoryMap
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StoryMap highlights:
Marijuana laws vary by state and county. They are often enforced more harshly in communities of color. "Blacks are 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis than whites." - Marijuana Law.

"In the U.S., someone is arrested for drug possession every 25 seconds, and nearly 80% of people in federal prison for drug offenses are Black or Hispanic." - CNBC

"ALEC has worked to pass laws to create for-profit prisons. Core Civic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) and the Geo Group (formerly Wackenhut Corrections) are two major ALEC sponsors." - Liberty Project

Political donations from the Prison Industrial Complex flood into Republicans to pass more stringent cannabis legislation and support for-profit prisons. Donations made by Core Civic as reported by OpenSecrets.

Is it legal to pay less than the minimum wage? The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery in the U.S. and ended involuntary servitude except as a punishment for conviction of a crime. In South Carolina for instance, the wages in the Division of Industries Service Program are $0.35 to $1.80 per hour. - Prison Policy

Many states prevent felons and those who have served their sentences from voting. "An estimated 6.1 million felons did not have the right to vote in the United States in 2016. This amounted to approximately 2.5 percent of the total voting age population. Florida has disenfranchised 1,686,318 felons or 10.43% of its population." - Ballotpedia

Mapping racist marijuana criminalization

It's easier to understand with a map how corporations, ALEC and Republicans draft and impose racist marijuana policies to benefit themselves at the expense of poor and communities of color. This map combines several layers of information that you can turn ON and OFF depending on what you would like to see. DemLabs designed this map with ArcGIS online to show:

Cannabis laws by state
Felon voting rights by state
Racial composition of county

Congressperson representing that county
Number of cannabis possession related arrests in a county

Use this free map to understand with a map how corporations, ALEC and Republicans draft and impose racist marijuana policies to benefit themselves at the expense of poor and communities of color.

Embed this map in a website with this code:
< iframe width="300" height="200" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen src=""></iframe>

TakeAway: Stop marijuana criminalization policies that feed for-profit prisons, provide corporations with cheap inmate labor and racially suppress voters. Remember to vote!


American Civil Liberties Unit
Marijuana And The LawOpen Secrets
BallotpediaLast Prisoner Project
CNBCThe 13th
REUTERS/Anthony Bolante
Mubarak Showole on Unsplash

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