4 Democratic presidential hopefuls have signed onto a marijuana legalization bill that Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., also a presidential contender, introduced final month. In explaining the bill, Booker assailed marijuana prohibition as an “unfair, unjust and failed policy.”

The aim of these candidates is misguided. Legalizing marijuana will only additional undermine poor communities and foster addiction. It is time for progressives to pick out amongst social justice and legalizing marijuana.

Proponents of legalization are appropriate to point out the racial and socioeconomic discrepancies in enforcement of marijuana arrests. And however, that is an argument for decriminalization or altering policing techniques – not for legalization. In reality, statistics collected from states that have currently legalized marijuana disprove the beliefs of these who assume legalization is a result in célèbre for social justice.


Take into account Washington state, exactly where legalization did not lower racial disparities in marijuana-connected arrests. A University of Washington report noted that such “criminal justice rhetoric” had “yet to be supported by information.” In Colorado, the quantity of Hispanic and African-American youth arrested for marijuana-connected crimes has risen following legalization.

Moreover, marijuana corporations target the most vulnerable communities. Practically 1-third of marijuana is consumed by men and women in properties with incomes under $20,000, and marijuana dispensaries overwhelmingly find in low-earnings communities. Advertising techniques target young children by supplying THC-infused gummy bears, brownies and other treats.

Advocates often argue that marijuana really should be legalized as a supply of new tax income. But contemplating that most marijuana is smoked by low-earnings people, such a tax would be regressive in nature. Rising damaging consumption taxes on poor communities does small to advance social equity.

Legalization would also contribute to poverty by hindering a user’s capability to achieve meaningful employment. Business enterprise owners just do not want to employ people who fail their drug tests. Analysis backs up this point by displaying that marijuana legalization has negatively impacted labor productivity by almost $1,300 per worker.

Legalization’s social impacts are damning, also. In Pueblo, Colorado, the percentage of newborns testing constructive for marijuana elevated 17-fold from 2013-2017.

Probably even far more regarding for the state of our communities is that marijuana is exceptionally habit-forming. “Adults who use fewer than 10 occasions per month and who endure no issues with substance abuse or dependence account for much less than five % of consumption. A lot more than half of marijuana is consumed by a person who is below the influence far more than half of all their waking hours,” according to drug policy specialist Jonathan Caulkins.

By this measure, marijuana creates substantially far more dependence than alcohol. Offered the quantity of Americans who endure from marijuana addiction, it is exceptional that Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., would advocate for legalization on the grounds that marijuana brings men and women “joy.”

Effortless access to pot would harmfully influence young men and women also. Research show that almost 25 % of higher college seniors would smoke marijuana if it was legalized. In addition to negatively impacting the teenage brain, proof from Colorado shows that youth emergency area visits would most likely spike. Worse nevertheless, 1 current meta-evaluation showed that, across 11 research, the use of marijuana in adolescence was linked to “increased threat of depression and suicidal thoughts.”

Analysis has also continued to show marijuana’s connection to psychosis. In January 2017, the National Academy of Medicine declared that “ Cannabis use is most likely to enhance the threat of creating schizophrenia and other psychoses.” Greater prices of psychosis will most likely lead to greater prices of violent crime.


So, why do progressive politicians continue to ignore the details behind marijuana legalization? The most most likely explanation is that they are just vying for the votes of the young, urban, progressive crowd that will play a potentially decisive part in future elections. It is a push for “bourgeois bohemian” interests, meant to excite the brunch crowd – not a social justice ploy.

Progressives have a clear option: They can seek to empower and embolden low-earnings communities, or they can pander to a effective particular interest. We will not hold our breath.

Alex Entz is a graduate student at Princeton University. He was formerly a policy advisor and speechwriter in Washington, D.C.