The Conversation on Cannabis is Changing…

Some of our members attended the city council meeting to begin reading into the public record some facts about the racist legacy of cannabis prohibition, and how the current legislation at the state and federal level still allows for risk of disparate treatment of Black/Hispanic/Latino/Native American cannabis users due to the subjectivity and lax oversight on how the laws are enforced. In particular, the paraphernalia laws and ordinances must go.

Paraphernalia laws are blatantly racist and classist. Wealthier, white users can afford edibles and nasal sprays. The poor purchase flower and use chillums, one-hitters, bowls, etc. as they can’t afford to purchase the edibles.

And Black users are over-policed using this law, causing them to enter the justice system for the crime of using this safe plant. Furthermore such laws stigmatize and criminalize addiction, despite the fact that these devices are a legal delivery device that is sold in our city.

“In a related issue, two city residents asked the council to consider striking the drug paraphernalia portion of an amended cannabis possession ordinance adopted two weeks ago. “Some of those devices are used legally by medical marijuana users,” said Heather McMeekan.

McMeekan said the paraphernalia ban is a legacy of previous rigid enforcement and could especially harm students and minorities. She said the portion of the ordinance allowing police to make stops based on detecting the odor of cannabis threatens those who have purchased it legally.

“The sealed medical marijuana in my vehicle leaves a distinctive odor,” McMeekan said.

Emiliano Vera told the city council that he is also opposed to the retention of drug paraphernalia language. “The poorest people in our community would be harmed by these unnecessarily punitive regulations,” he said.”


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