Criminal Justice Reform (cont.)

Legalizing Marijuana

Solis supports the legalization of recreational use of marijuana. Not only has marijuana been proven to be helpful for medicinal and medical purposes, including mental health, it is also a great way to stimulate Maryland’s economy. Legalizing marijuana would also expunge previous marijuana convictions for actions that would be legal under the new law.

Solis also supports restorative programs for those affected by the war on drugs. An example of one type of restorative program would be a reparations program, such as the one Evanston, Illinois recently enacted. Evanston, the first city in the country to enact such a program, will use the money from legalizing marijuana to make reparation money available to Black residents. Advocates argue this program helps repair the ongoing harm systemic racism has caused Evanston’s Black residents, with the housing initiative as its first step. Restorative programs, such as Illinois’ reparations program, help fix the historical and ongoing mortgage discrimination resulting from systematic racism. This type of program would also help eliminate wealth differences caused by abusive housing practices.

 

Decriminalizing Hard Drugs

Solis also supports decriminalizing hard drugs. Oregon has become the first state to decriminalize hard drugs and Solis wants Maryland to follow suit.

Why decriminalize hard drugs?

  • Decriminalization is not legalization. Decriminalization means to remove or reduce the criminal classification or status of, to repeal a strict ban while keeping under some form of regulation. Decriminalizing hard drugs does not make hard drugs legal like cannabis. It merely just takes away the ineffective legal penalties from at-risk drug-users. Selling hard drugs would still be a criminal offense.
  • In countries where hard drugs are decriminalized, such as Portugal, addiction and substance abuse rates have lowered. Hard drug usage such as cocaine and heroin, have dropped 70% over the past 20 years since decriminalization. This is because those who have addiction and substance abuse issues are not jailed, but are treated.
  • Decriminalization encourages people to remain within society. Rather than jailing people with addictions, drug-users can seek treatment, which can encourage drug-users to remain productive members of society. More importantly, when hard drug use is penalized with criminal statutes, it becomes more difficult for people to find employment and support themselves.
  • Decriminalization can change drug addiction stigma. When people are encouraged to get treatment, and stay in society, it changes how society sees addiction. It encourages people to view addiction as a disease, and not a legal or moral issue.
  • Decriminalization allows the criminal justice system to focus on criminalizing dangerous and harmful criminals, not addicts. Criminalizing drug-users only worsens the problem of addiction and drug use because the criminal justice system was not built or designed to treat addicts.
  • Regulation can occur once drugs have been decriminalized, as well as potentially life changing medical research can proceed once these substances are not federally illegal. This will mean, just like after alcohol prohibition, cannabis or any other recreational substance can be regulated by the government, thus producing a safer product then what is available currently.
  • Solis also supports creating state funded drug treatment centers specializing in drug rehabilitation with innovative programs to treat addiction.