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

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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 Strategy,” released on Wednesday, is developed to take a preventative method to men and women getting into the criminal justice program when also supplying 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 men and women who are poor, the most vulnerable people, and the most marginalized communities.”

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

Castro mentioned punitive federal drug laws, which includes 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, developing a program of mass incarceration and a significantly less just nation.”

To right the dilemma, addiction should really be treated like a public well being concern, Castro mentioned. Treating the dilemma by means of the criminal justice program has “shattered communities, strengthened criminal groups, and locked up these who did not deserve it.”

Whilst 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 mainly public well being challenges, 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 requires legalizing cannabis, expunging the records of these with non-violent marijuana convictions on their record and putting a federal tax on sales, when making use of that income to assistance these most impacted by prohibition.

“We will regulate the industry 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 mentioned he would also produce grant applications “that help minority-owned organizations and prioritize men and women straight impacted by the war on drugs in getting marijuana organization licenses.”

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

Castro mentioned he’d launch initiatives aimed at stopping misuse of what he known as “dangerous” drugs and treating addiction. Additional, he pledged that pharmaceutical firms whose actions contributed to the country’s opioid dilemma 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 initial 100 days of his administration, ban tobacco firms from participating in the sector and encourage nonprofit organization models.

And former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), a further contender, also released a program on Thursday that emphasizes the have to have to treat addiction in the public well being sector. His proposals include things like decriminalizing possession of all drugs and investing in harm reduction applications such as needle exchanges and supervised consumption web-sites.

Like many other presidential candidates, Castro mentioned he would use presidential clemency powers to promptly impact adjust in the criminal justice program. He pledged to produce an independent commission to assessment the thousands of instances of non-violent drug offenders serving time in federal prison, with the panel producing suggestions to him about clemency possibilities.

“This is the single largest step we can take to promptly lessen the unacceptable size of our prison population and set an instance for the rest of the nation that the era of mass incarceration ought to finish,” he mentioned.

“There are an estimated 17,000-plus men and women serving unjust and excessive sentences in federal prisons proper now, frequently for non-violent drug offenses.”

He is also pledging to “pass legislation requiring states that get added benefits to lift the lifetime ban on Supplemental Nutrition Help Plan (SNAP) and Short-term Help for Needy Households (TANF) added benefits for men and women 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 major-to-bottom audit of just about every federal dollar to discover the techniques in which the federal government subsidizes cruel and damaging practices in state and regional prison systems, and help efforts to redirect sources towards restorative justice.”

Other non-drug certain reform proposals in his program include things like 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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