Presidential Candidate Julián Castro Calls For Marijuana Legalization And Expungements In New Program

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Former Housing and Urban Improvement Secretary Julián Castro proposed a criminal justice program pledging that if he is elected president he will legalize marijuana, expunge prior cannabis convictions and invest in communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition.

The “First Opportunity Program,” released on Wednesday, is created to take a preventative method to individuals getting into the criminal justice program even though also delivering sources for these who’ve currently been incarcerated. The 2020 Democratic candidate pointed to the war on drugs as an instance of a policy that “became a siege against individuals who are poor, the most vulnerable people, and the most marginalized communities.”

“Today much more than two million individuals are incarcerated, and much more than half a million people are locked up for non-violent drug offenses, disproportionately young African American and Latino males,” he stated. “The human charges are staggering: households torn apart, billions wasted in taxpayer dollars, and the lost possible of a generation.”

Castro stated punitive federal drug laws, like the 1994 crime bill that a further candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, played a major function in enacting, have “enabled the more than-policing of communities of colour, making a program of mass incarceration and a significantly less just nation.”

To right the challenge, addiction ought to be treated like a public overall health problem, Castro stated. Treating the challenge by means of the criminal justice program has “shattered communities, strengthened criminal groups, and locked up these who did not deserve it.”

Though not explicitly endorsing the decriminalization of drug possession as some other candidates have, Castro is calling to “end the War on Drugs” and “address the opioid crisis and other challenges of drug addiction as mostly public overall health concerns, not seek to additional harm the people and communities suffering addiction.”

“As president, I will bring our misguided War on Drugs to an finish.”

That entails legalizing cannabis, expunging the records of these with non-violent marijuana convictions on their record and putting a federal tax on sales, even though utilizing that income to aid these most impacted by prohibition.

“We will regulate the marketplace and location a tax on all recreational sales, investing billions in income generated in the communities disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs,” the program says.

In order to market equity in the legal sector, Castro stated he would also develop grant applications “that assistance minority-owned firms and prioritize individuals straight impacted by the war on drugs in getting marijuana enterprise licenses.”

The wide-ranging program also contains proposals to finish drug sentencing disparities for crack and powder cocaine, as nicely as launch a federal assessment of all sentencing suggestions to cease other racial disparities.

Castro stated he’d launch initiatives aimed at stopping misuse of what he known as “dangerous” drugs and treating addiction. Additional, he pledged that pharmaceutical organizations whose actions contributed to the country’s opioid challenge would be held accountable “for their function in the suffering of millions.
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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-IVT), a rival presidential candidate, rolled out his personal marijuana-focused program on Thursday that pledges to deschedule the substances inside the initially 100 days of his administration, ban tobacco organizations from participating in the sector and encourage nonprofit enterprise models.

And former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), a further contender, also released a program on Thursday that emphasizes the will need to treat addiction in the public overall health sector. His proposals contain decriminalizing possession of all drugs and investing in harm reduction applications such as needle exchanges and supervised consumption websites.

Like many other presidential candidates, Castro stated he would use presidential clemency powers to straight away influence transform in the criminal justice program. He pledged to develop an independent commission to assessment the thousands of situations of non-violent drug offenders serving time in federal prison, with the panel generating suggestions to him about clemency possibilities.

“This is the single most significant step we can take to straight away minimize the unacceptable size of our prison population and set an instance for the rest of the nation that the era of mass incarceration need to finish,” he stated.

“There are an estimated 17,000-plus individuals serving unjust and excessive sentences in federal prisons ideal now, typically for non-violent drug offenses.”

He is also pledging to “pass legislation requiring states that obtain advantages to lift the lifetime ban on Supplemental Nutrition Help System (SNAP) and Short-term Help for Needy Households (TANF) advantages for individuals with felony drug convictions.”

Notably, Castro recognized that reform in the federal prison program is not adequate to finish mass incarceration. That is why he’s proposing “a leading-to-bottom audit of each and every federal dollar to uncover the methods in which the federal government subsidizes cruel and dangerous practices in state and neighborhood prison systems, and assistance efforts to redirect sources towards restorative justice.”

Other non-drug certain reform proposals in his program contain abolishing money bail and mandatory minimum sentences, ending the death penalty and solitary confinement and restoring voting rights for people who had been incarcerated.

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Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.

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