People arrested for marijuana felonies are disproportionately black. In fact, African-Americans are five times more likely to be hit with this kind of felony charge than their white counterparts in California. Naturally, this leaves them at a higher rate of disenfranchisement, removing them from processes allotted to most Americans.
Criminal records are like shadows, following their owners from one aspect to another. Those who carry this weight know that job applicants may be turned away for marijuana-related felonies, further contributing to unemployment rates. But that may change.
With the new law, Proposition 64, California legalized recreational marijuana on Jan. 1. Now, anyone 21 and older may have it at their disposal with no repercussions. And that’s not even the best news for habitual users. Prop 64 will permit those with past marijuana-related charges and arrests to have them reduced or removed from their record completely, VICE reports.
According to the Drug Policy Alliance, approximately one million Californians may benefit from the new law. This would most heavily affect black people due to excessive marijuana-related arrests. It could change their participation drastically and for the better, possibly making more room for equality in one area.
Like ex-post facto Miranda rights, law enforcement’s next big step will be to inform the state’s residents. For maximum effectivity, advocates will have to inform those who could benefit from the changes proposed by the new law.