Promote Smart Decarceration and Eliminate Racism Grand Challenges for Social Work: Reimagining Marijuana Policy

Abstract
Marijuana decriminalization and legalization policies are being passed in many state and local jurisdictions throughout the United States (U.S.). In this process, many lawmakers have used the argument that these policies and associated practices will redress racial disparities in the criminal punishment system. Yet, the evidence suggests this is not the case. We, therefore, use Critical Race Theory (CRT) to interrogate how marijuana-related policies and practices perpetuate collateral consequences and racial disparities in mass incarceration and recidivism to uncover the ways in which they challenge efforts to promote smart decarceration and eliminate racism. We argue that in order to effectively promote smart decarceration and eliminate racism, we must move beyond the limits of current social equity programs to a race-conscious approach to marijuana policy reform. And to that end, we offer evidence-supported policy and practice recommendations.

Recommended Citation
Lea, Charles H. III; Mohr, Gaby; McCarter, Susan A.; Coughlin, Sarah B.; Gottlieb, Aaron; Partlow, Briana S.; Matthews, Keshawn S.; and McLeod, Branden A. (2022) “Promote Smart Decarceration and Eliminate Racism Grand Challenges for Social Work: Reimagining Marijuana Policy,” The Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare: Vol. 49: Iss. 2, Article 3.
Available at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/jssw/vol49/iss2/3

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