The topic of drug decriminalization and legalization fascinates me for numerous reasons. In college, I have been taught about the war on drugs and the unequal consequences people face from our criminal justice system based on race, wealth, and class. I find it not only morally wrong, but evil and extremely damaging to society to imprison people for nonviolent crimes.
From my exposure to social movements towards the legalization of drugs, I have noticed that the main drug that has significant power behind it being legalized is marijuana. Before Apryl and I dive into our project, I think it would be helpful to narrow our focus to movements to legalize marijuana, and then use what we learn to make inferences about the legalization of other substances. We could even look at movements in other countries. A major aim we will have is to look at how media attention can work for or against movements to legalize marijuana.
One thing I am really curious about relating to movements to legalize marijuana is the question of what are the main motives behind these movements? Are most of the activists just enthusiasts for the drug itself, or are they also concerned with the social implications?
One ballot measure that currently is relevant to our research is California Proposition 47. If this measure passes, it would make some nonviolent crimes misdemeanors instead of felonies. In my opinion this is a tiny baby step, but it would help to keep nonviolent citizens out of prison. The money saved in this proposition from keeping nonviolent citizens out of jail would be used to create a “safe neighborhoods and schools fund”. This sounds like a bit of political lingo, but it sounds like it could do a whole lot more good than locking people up for being the in the wrong place or being the wrong color while using drugs.