Legalize marijuana for recreational use and expunge cannabis-related criminal convictions.
The criminalization of marijuana has caused massive racial and wealth-based disparities in marijuana-related arrests and incarceration. According to the ACLU, Black people are 5.4 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession in Minnesota, despite comparable usage rates. Minnesota is the 8th worst state in the nation for racial disparities in marijuana enforcement.
We can do so much better, but we need to go beyond legalization.
Why? Because we are learning from other states that legalization alone won’t necessarily reduce racial disparities in enforcement. In fact, some states have seen racial disparities in enforcement grow after legalization, even as total arrest numbers declined sharply.
These disparities aren't just academic. Racial disparities in marijuana enforcement have a deep impact on the lives of individuals and communities. People with drug arrests or convictions on their records are not eligible for federal financial aid and some other public benefits. And a drug arrest can also make it difficult for people to get a job or to secure housing.
That’s why expungement of past marijuana convictions is an essential part of any legalization measure. We support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, and we urge lawmakers to take measures – including expungement of marijuana-related convictions – to ensure that legalization eases, and does not magnify, existing disparities in enforcement.
Jessica Hanson (D); Melissa Hortman (D); Jamie Long (D); Aisha Gomez (D); Kaohly Vang Her (D); Erin Koegel (D); Sydney Jordan (D); Emma Greenman (D); Steve Elkins (D); Sandra Feist (D); Luke Frederick (D); Athena Hollins (D); Michael Howard (D); Liz Olson (D); Leon Lillie (D); Mohamud Noor (D); Ethan Cha (D); Amanda Hemmingsen-Jaeger (D); Dan Wolgamott (D); Jamie Becker-Finn (D); Jeff Brand (D); Hodan Hassan (D); Brion Curran (D); Brad Tabke (D); Liz Reyer (D); Esther Agbaje (D); Samakab Hussein (D)