The debate on whether or not to legalize marijuana is one that is contentious at best, but Illinois gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss brilliantly breaks down why doing so is really about racial justice.
“The application of cannabis law, in Illinois and America today is fundamentally biased. The law is applied completely differently in communities of color, as compared to majority-white communities, and it’s wrong and it’s immoral,” Biss says in a local classroom.
“Instead of pretending that we can somehow avoid that, I think it’s time that we solve the problem the correct way by legalizing the recreational use of cannabis. That to me is the core issue.”
Biss says he also supports the idea of the state generating revenue from recreational marijuana, but as long as the real focus is on ending unjust laws.
“Others say ‘Hey, would you like the revenue and the answer is sure. If we legalize it, and regulate it properly and tax it appropriately that will be a revenue source for the state and that’s great news.”
But he preferences: “The reason to do it shouldn’t be driven by revenue, it should be driven first and foremost by criminal justice and racial justice and there’s very, very, very powerful evidence that we have to do this if we want a just society.”
This Illinois gubernatorial candidate wants to legalize weed for racial justice pic.twitter.com/x49HZEWwV5
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) February 9, 2018
What’s more, is that Biss also makes the argument that in addition to making marijuana legal, those who have been thrown in prison on marijuana charges deserve to have their sentences commuted.
“I don’t have a time machine, so we won’t be able to retroactively change the laws that have been applied, but I will as governor, have the power to commute sentences,” he says.
That step, he says, will be crucial in the push to end mass incarceration, which disproportionately impacts Black and brown people.
“And when we enact the bold criminal justice reform agenda that I am committed to fighting for, the next step is going to be to look at then, incarcerated, who would not have been, supposing that the new system had always been in place, and you have to be very, very aggressive and robust about using the commutation in those cases as well because that’s really the way to end mass incarceration.
–GOP lawmaker says black people can’t handle marijuana due to ‘their genetics’–
Black woman running mate
It’s also worth noting that Biss is not only woke, but has a Black woman as his running mate.
Litesa Wallace is running for the state’s lieutenant governor, after serving for the Illinois House of Representatives since 2014.
Wallace has committed her policy-making efforts to expanding affordable housing and protecting the rights of women and LGBT people.