According to the ACLU, the War on Cannabis, a subset of the notorious War on Drugs, has proven ineffective and wasteful. However, it still costs taxpayers approximately $3.6 billion. The Last Prisoner Project brings light to state laws that made incredibly harsh sentences a commonplace among marginalized communities. Over-policing of communities has created distrust in dealings with local police officers; research suggests that African-Americans are 3.73x more likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites, despite having smoked it at nearly the same rate.
As mainstream attitudes shift towards legalization, however, the number of racially motivated arrests should drop in the next decade. A 2019 CBS poll found that 65% of Americans support legalization. These non-profit organizations advocate, educate, and offer common sense policy suggestions to protect the rights of all Americans negatively affected by prohibition. We’ve done the vetting and created a list of the most trustworthy organizations to get involved in.
Last Prisoner Project
The Last Prisoner Project, a non-profit organization, works tirelessly to release Americans who have been imprisoned for cannabis-related and victimless crimes. This organization offers support and resources to victims of cannabis incarceration. They can fight for clemency, criminal record expungement, and re-entry into work. They accept donations through their website.
Parents 4 Pot
P4P is a non-profit organization that focuses primarily on adult criminal justice reform. However, it raises awareness about the effects of prohibition on children's families. They advocate for people with terminal and chronic conditions that would benefit from cannabis' medicinal properties. They help families deal with cannabis-related issues by providing education, direct action and organizational support.
Americans for Safe Access
The ASA is a well-established non-profit with a long history of policy changes. They advocate for medical cannabis patients at both the state and federal levels. In addition, they created the first International Cannabis and Cannabinoid Institute. They also offer accredited education programs to support patients and medical professionals.
National Cannabis Industry Association
NCIA advocates for businesses using a business-centric approach. The NCIA's goal is to assist business owners in navigating the new legal cannabis industry. While more states have legalized cannabis, licensees in those states are still operating in the legal gray zone federally. This can present many challenges for start-ups. NCIA advocates believe that business owners should have a voice in the development of new policies that could affect their businesses.
Cannabis Access Alliance
Although legalization is a significant first step, cannabis advocacy does not end there. Accessibility is a major problem for marginalized communities as well as those who are affected by prohibition. In states like Arizona, there is little or no insurance coverage for medical marijuana. There is financial assistance available for those who need an MMJ card, or are financially unable to pay. They can also help new patients with the application process.
Fields of Green for All
Fields of Green for All, a South African non-profit organization, published a publication titled Cannabis, the People's Plant – A Full Spectrum Manifesto for Policy Reform. They also have a blog and advocate for reforms that will be beneficial to most South Africans.
Georgia CARE Project
Georgia is the US's most restrictive state for cannabis. More marijuana than one ounce could result in a felony conviction. Although major cities like Atlanta have made it illegal, residents in rural areas of the state are still fighting for their rights. Georgia CARE Project provides information for activists and interested citizens, patients, journalists, and others.
America is now closer to legalization than ever, and other countries like South Africa are starting to notice. However, there is still much to be done. These organizations can make cannabis prohibition a distant memory.