Published on March 9th, 2015 | by News Feed
Progress Stalls After Washington DC Legalization Measures
In November, marijuana activists celebrated a huge victory at the polls with legalization winning the majority vote. Democracy was heard and the people won what they desired. The law took effect on February 26, 2015, but progress has stalled as marijuana users face an uphill battle to gain social acceptance and overcome the stigma of pot use.
At the heart of the issue, there seems to be a racial bias. Activists from the ACLU worked to see marijuana legalized because there was a troubling trend with the majority of arrests for pot possession being among African Americans. Seema Sadanandan, the policy director for the ACLU in D.C. said the new change in law was a step forward in the battle for racial equality. “This is a watershed moment. This is the first marijuana reform in the country driven by racial justice”.
However the real interesting aspect here is that the legal win has not led to a public showing of support like it has in Washington state. In fact there are many gray areas in this new law and many are worried that it could lead to further discrimination. This is why supporters of the legalization, such as Rev. Graylan Hagler, have thrown their support behind disallowing pre-employment drug screening.
There is currently nothing to stop an employer from drug testing employees after they have been hired. Who is to say that after the hiring process sis over that discrimination does not take place? The question that many supporters are asking is why non-violent marijuana charges are even allowed to be kept on a record and why it would lead to job loss.
While some are advocating for a sealed criminal record, the ACLU has pointed out, correctly, that a sealed record is not the same as an expunged record. If you are an individual seeking a job and you say you have no criminal record, you could be caught in a serous lie that would ruin your chances at a job.
This is why the fight for legalization has not ended at the polls and this is why supporters like Sadanandan are still voicing their opinions.
“We held hundreds of community meetings, went into schools and churches and talked to people on the street to build support for legalization. They were concerned about police jump-out squads as well as the stop and frisk policies. What people were saying is that we need to have a conversation about the core values of the city, and whether our resources are being used in the best way to make it safer”.
The current mood in the district is one of anger. While the concept that marijuana would be legal was the idea, it has still not been openly embraced. Further, the police might not be arresting people for possession but you are not allowed to buy marijuana on the streets. At the end of the day, marijuana is legal but it is still not wanted in the district. What will it take to change the public perception of marijuana so that people no longer view pot as the enemy?