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Hispanic State Lawmakers Across U.S. Stand Up for Cannabis Legalization

The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators condemns the “racist, xenophobic, anti-Minority” origins of cannabis prohibition.

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The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) just released a resolution condemning the racist origins of marijuana prohibition and calling for the nationwide legalization of cannabis. In the resolution, “the NHCSL advises state legislators to enact legislation to decriminalize marijuana, provide for the . . . sealing of records for drug convictions for underlying behavior that is legalized and enact responsible and appropriate policies, should a jurisdiction decide to regulate its sale as a legitimate article of commerce, to prevent youth access and curtail cartel and criminal activity.”

The resolution details the racial motivations behind the U.S. government's decision to criminalize cannabis use in the early 20th Century. “During the 1920’s and 1930’s, when it was first penalized in various states, cannabis use was portrayed as a cultural vice of Mexican immigrants to the United States, and racist and xenophobic politicians and government officials used cannabis prohibition specifically to target and criminalize Mexican-American culture and incarcerate Mexican-Americans and, therefore, the prohibition of cannabis is fundamentally rooted in discrimination against Hispanics.”

The NHCSL, which represents Latino state legislators all across the country, also notes that “the Controlled Substances Act classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, stating that marijuana holds great potential for abuse, and has no medicinal value, which is scientifically false.” The resolution notes the numerous scientifically validated medical uses of cannabis, as well as the fact that the drug has never been responsible for an overdose death.

The resolution also recounts the success of cannabis legalization in Colorado as a model of potential success nationwide. “Since the State of Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, the overall crime rate has decreased by 10.1%, while violent crime rate dropped by 5.2%, homicide rates dropped to less than half by 2014, and motor vehicle theft dropped by 33% by 2014,” the resolution states. “Taxation of legal recreational marijuana generated $76 million dollars in tax revenue, licenses and fees for the State of Colorado in just the year 2014.”

“The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators strongly condemns the racist, xenophobic, anti-Minority and, specifically, anti-Latino animus and scaremongering that led to the prohibition of, and the national crusade against, cannabis/marijuana in the first place, which makes the prohibition unconstitutional,” the resolution states.

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