On Wednesday, the Alabama Democratic Party (ADP) launched their 2022 effort to support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Alabama with their new “Free Weed” website.

The Alabama Democratic Party said legalizing marijuana is an issue with bipartisan support that would help repair damage caused by racial disparities in our criminal justice system and create an economic boom for our state.

State Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) is the Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party.

“Alabama’s Republican politicians seem hellbent on wasting money criminalizing ordinary people, ruining lives in the process,” said England. “Rather than pursuing policies that create opportunity and make our state more equitable, taxpayers are now strapped to a $1.3 billion prison project. Criminalizing cannabis doesn’t make us safer. If we legalize cannabis, we can bring new economic opportunities to Alabama and correct decades-old policies based on outright racism.”

England and the Democrats claim that bad policies surrounding cannabis have disproportionately affected communities of color and Alabama needs reform.

“We must focus on reforming current medical cannabis laws, which create socioeconomic disparities,” said State Rep. Neil Rafferty (D-Birmingham). “We must focus on decriminalizing cannabis and expunging the records of those with minor cannabis possession arrests. We must focus on the personal liberty of adult Alabamians to safely use a substance in the same way many others across the United States have.”

Democrats say that public opinion surrounding recreational cannabis has also shifted drastically over the past decade. They say that the next generation of Alabama legislators are committed to correcting the racist policy errors of the past and fully legalizing cannabis.

"Republican politicians are depriving Alabamians of freedoms many enjoy in other parts of America,” said Mallory Hagan, the Democratic candidate for House District 25. “Americans in Colorado should not have more freedoms than we do here in Alabama. Almost 70% of voters in all demographics and age groups favor legalization. Younger voters are particularly enthusiastic about the legalization of cannabis for recreational use; we need to start legislating with their future in mind. Whether you plan to use cannabis or not, anyone who values freedom should understand the importance of legalizing cannabis for recreational use."

Read more about the ADP’s push for cannabis reform in Alabama at their website.

The Legislature legalized hemp before the U.S. Congress did. The Legislature also passed Carly’s Law and Lenni’s law to make cannabidiol available legally in Alabama before it was legalized federally. In 2021, the Alabama House of Representatives passed legislation making medical marijuana legal in the state. Even though medical marijuana is still federally illegal, it is expected to be cultivated, processed and sold with a doctor’s recommendation in Alabama by the end of the year.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.

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