Nationwide protests within the wake of the police killing George Floyd have reignited a public debate over police brutality within the United States. People are demanding police forces be defunded and even disbanded.

The name to defund the police is after all a monetary challenge however it’s also about constructing constructive police options. It is a name to reinvest in our communities and to discover new and extra equitable options.

This is exactly what the City Council of Portland, Oregon, sought to accomplish final week, when it authorised an modification to a proposed price range for its underwhelming cannabis program. This modification will transfer roughly $27 million from marijuana tax income funds that formally went to the City’s police division to packages specializing in restorative justice initiatives.

Though again in 2016, the City of Portland handed Recreational Marijuana Sales Measure 26-180, a measure that allotted marijuana tax {dollars} to substance misuse therapy, public security and small enterprise improvement, a 2019 Portland City Auditor report revealed that 46 p.c of marijuana tax income had gone straight to the Portland Police Bureau. In different phrases, marijuana tax income was funding the very establishment that has disproportionately focused communities of shade, significantly Black and Brown males, in enforcement of marijuana legal guidelines.

Since the 1970s, enforcement of marijuana possession legal guidelines has been carried out with staggering racial bias. According to a 2013 report revealed by the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”), practically half of all drug arrests made in 2010 have been for marijuana possession. Although marijuana use was roughly the identical amongst Blacks and Whites, Blacks have been practically 4 occasions as seemingly to be arrested for marijuana possession. See additionally Marijuana and Racism: Bearing the Blunt of the Problem.

As Jason Ortiz, President of the Minority Cannabis Business Association (“MCBA”) and police accountability activist, said in a latest press release, “[t]his [misallocation of marijuana tax revenue] is not just an Oregon problem, this is a national disgrace.” Mr. Ortiz defined that the MCBA expects jurisdictions throughout the U.S. to comply with Portland’s lead and he inspired all hashish justice advocates to examine their municipal funds and native hashish firm investments to decide if and the way marijuana tax revenues supposed for neighborhood uplift are in actual fact being allotted.

Indeed, the right allocation of marijuana tax income is a part of the nationwide challenge of hashish reform. Throughout the United States, conversations have been going down concerning the connection between marijuana prohibition and racial injustice.

According to Marijuana Moment, Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Barbara Lee (D-CA) not too long ago circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter urging their fellow lawmakers to take into account federal marijuana reform to additional promote racial justice as they debate policing reform laws.

Last month, the House of Representatives launched a resolution condemning police brutality and racial profiling, and calling for “sound and unbiased law enforcement policies that would reduce disparate impact of police brutality and use of force on Black and Brown people and other historically marginalized communities” that stem, partially, from the War on Drugs.

States too have been vocal in regards to the position of marijuana reform in combating racial injustices.

During a latest press conference, California Governor Newsom highlighted California’s legalizing leisure marijuana as a “civil rights” challenge. This assertion was echoed by Virginia Governor Northam who said that the enactment of cannabis decriminalization legislation in May was supposed to handle racial inequalities. Other states, together with New York, are pushing for the passage of felony justice reform laws, together with the legalization of marijuana.

The requires change following George Floyd’s homicide assist shine a highlight on the devastating harm attributable to a long time of hashish prohibition and on the necessity to guarantee our assets get reinvested into the communities most harmed by hashish prohibition. This a elementary facet of honoring these calls abolishing racial inequality in Portland, in Oregon, and all through the nation.

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