Marijana Legalization Needs to Include Rights For Prisoners

Marijana Legalization Needs to Include Rights For Prisoners

People should be able to profit while others were arrested for the same thing.
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Former Speaker of the House John Boehner announced recently that his stance on Marijuana Legislation “has evolved,” according to a New York Times article available here. This is surprising but great news for liberals and Cannabis enthusiasts alike as it seems there has been a trend in more traditionally conservative or right leaning politicians to be canibus positive. This is important because it is turning a more liberal issue into something more partisan making legalization have a higher chance to pass on the floor statewide or even federally.

A lot of change in right wing stances comes from the fiscal value that the plant can in the amount of money the cannabis industry can bring to a state. States that already have legalized the drug have generated a huge profit from companies sprouting, to the rise of tourism, and even people moving to the states in the interest of their lifestyle.

However, a question brought up by more left wing voters is what happens to the people charged of crimes related to marijuana? In the United States, over half of the drug busts are marijuana related, according to the ACLU, with 8.2 million arrests associated with Marijuana taking place between 2000 and 2010. Of that 8.2 million, 88% were just marijuana possession alone. Not selling. Not trafficking. Simply having marijuana on them. Not to mention a lot of the arrests have severe racial bias. Black Americans are more than three times as likely to be arrested for Marijuana than white americans. According to Drugpolicy.org, of the people who are incarcerated in the prison system for drug offenses, 57 percent are black or latino even though they sell drugs at the same rate as white people.

While there are eight states so far who have chosen to legalize marijuana and twenty-two states that have decriminalized marijuana, there are still thousands of people in prisons for Cannabis related crimes as well as thousands of people who have felonies related to marijuana offenses that stay on their record and prevent them from being able to get jobs that restrict hiring felons.

The issue is that it is very unlikely that a conservative politician who accepts legalization on the stance that it will bring profit to their state will actually consider the impact the War on Drugs has had on it’s citizen, primarily those who are persons of color. It’s important that liberal politicians and voters pay attention to this while pushing for legalization as not doing so is marginalizing and entire group of people who were targets of Cannabis demonization in the first place. You can read about that in this article.

Luckily, California is a state that has taken this into consideration. In November of 2016, they passed Prop. 64 for marijuana legalization and in it they also included rights for those incarcerated on marijuana related crimes to petition for reduced or dismissed convictions. This is a huge step and hopefully other states will follow suite when writing new marijuana legalization laws.

Currently there are a few states that are looking into potential legalization, Illinois being one of them. Ideally, politicians will advocate to include similar rights for the incarcerated. The important thing however, is that politicians know this is important to their citizens so that they can help release those who didn’t deserve to have their lives changed forever by the prison system while some profit from their crime.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Pete Buttigieg Is On Everybody's Radar Now, But Can Mayor Pete Really Become President Pete?

Charisma, polyglot and success in reviving a Midwestern city make him a viable candidate for president. But will this hold?

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At the time of writing this, at least 18 people are vying for the Democratic Party nomination to challenge Donald Trump during the Presidential election in 2020. This includes some heavyweights, such as Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Kamala Harris and Senator Cory Booker. There are also fringe candidates, like Andrew Yang. Then there are the formerly fringe candidates. One person fits that bill: Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

Pete Buttigieg has erupted as a potential candidate for the Presidency. He recently took 9% of a recent poll in Iowa, the state that begins the general election season. The question is this: why has he gained so much traction? There are several potential reasons.

First, Mayor Pete has, at least compared to Trump, significant governmental experience as the mayor of South Bend. He has been mayor since 2011. He began his time in office at the age of 29 and has since been re-elected with 80% of the vote in 2015. His success in the city has shown: the city experienced significant growth following a population decline between 2000-2010.

The Mayor has also spearheaded some rebirth projects in the city, including converting the old Studebaker plant in town into a tech hub, conversion of the city streets downtown, and millions of dollars of private investment into the city. As a result, Mayor Pete can tout his success here as examples of why he could be president.

Other supporters claim that he is immensely talented and intelligent (though I do not like this reasoning). Mayor Pete was a Rhodes Scholar after attending Harvard. He knows myriad languages, including Norwegian. He is well-acquainted with various philosophies, including that of well-known intellectual Antonio Gramsci, whom his father has written on.

Though this line of thinking is flawed (I mean, Julian Castro attended Stanford, Cory Booker was also a Rhodes Scholar and Elizabeth Warren lectured at Harvard Law School), it is easy to see WHY he resonates: when compared to the President, Pete is levels above him.

Finally, a lot of what he says resonates with people. He speaks about his faith with fervor and honesty, something I appreciate greatly. He talks about the virtues of progressive politics and supporting policies like universal healthcare, labor unionism, combating climate change among other policies. His youth ideals combined are valued by many.

However, Pete still has his critics. Concerns about the gentrification of the city, wiretapping, and targeting of vacant properties that led to accusations of targeting of minorities in the city are what concerns many people. There were also previous issues with the police chief in the town, who recorded conversations, and who he demoted, which raised concerns for racial bias.

Whether or not this affects the primary at all is anyone's guess. However, he has momentum. Maybe Mayor Pete will become President Pete someday.

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