In the last eight months, the country has gone collectively through the roof as the tension between White House supporters and it’s critics continue to grow and seemingly sudden changes and drama from the current administration continue to keep citizens heads spinning. As headline after headline breaks as fast as the POTUS can tweet it seems like we are constantly having our attention pulled in a million directions at once, and as a result there things on both sides of the aisles that fall through the cracks. Topics like international relations, maintaining global alliances, and civil and human rights are often the major stories running through our timelines, but Senator Cory Booker is making sure that cannabis remains a part of these discussions.
Over the decades as the war on drugs raged on, more and more information about the influence of racism and classism in shaping the prohibition came to the forefront. Senator Booker took to Facebook to address the people of New Jersey and the United States about how these factors shaped his legislation. In his live stream Senator Booker explores the history of the prohibition and how propaganda criminalized and stereotyped minorities and poor communities. The results have been culminated in a report released by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) that the Senator referenced several times, which shows that current laws are leading to a disproportionate amount of profiling and arrests aimed at Latinos and People of Color. The study also shows that the majority of arrests are for simple possession or similar minor offenses while less than half of arrests are for distribution, illegal grows, and possession of large amounts (over one kilo, for example).
Senator Booker went on to address the growing support for those suffering from the legal ramifications of the weed prohibition, noting how many who are criminalized over simple possession have their lives ruined with large criminal charges, loss of FAFSA funding for college, and long term impacts on employment and career growth, resulting in continued cycles of poverty in many poor and minority communities and families.
Public safety was also addressed by Booker, who gave a brief history of his past public works focused on de-privatizing the prison system, focusing his legislation on public safety, and creating opportunity for low income communities. All aspects that he goes on to explain contributed to his new legislation. The Senator addressed how the war on drugs has contributed to the destruction of families, as men and women are ripped from the homes and children are displaced into the foster care system over the lowest level cannabis offenses. While more and more state funds are spent on prisons instead of police training and education across the country, Senator Booker points out, other countries invested in growth, education, and civil liberties to progress their own communities and the difference is showing as reports show the declining status of American students.
Check out the Senator’s full live stream with a question and answer segment with the Facebook community below.