For decades, the “War on Drugs” has disproportionately affected people of color due to aggressive enforcement of marijuana laws. Now that marijuana is legal, it has become a multi-billion-dollar industry that may be leaving behind those communities most negatively impacted for generations.
On this week’s PolicyWise (Episode 26), hosts Demetria Wack and Michael Wiafe welcome Youth Forward’s Executive Director Jim Keddy and Policy Advocate Sarah-Michael Gaston. Sacramento-based Youth Forward was founded after Prop 64 passed and works to increase mental health services for youth of color and vulnerable youth, ensure racial equity and community reinvestment with cannabis tax dollars, work toward juvenile justice reform and coordinate Sac Kids First, a grassroots coalition.
“Some of the language in Prop 64 showed where the [tax] money should be going,” explain Gaston. “It specifically talked about repairing the harm that had been caused by the ‘War on Drugs’ and going back to marginalized communities.”
“I’d encourage folks to get involved in this issue at the local level to figure out what your city’s doing, your county,” said Keddy. “How you think about what should be happening and to make your voice be heard because it’s just going to get bigger and generate more money.”