Steven Bender

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Current legalization approaches for recreational marijuana fall short of performing and delivering racial justice as measured by materiality and outcomes rather than promises of formal legal equality. As a small first step for unwinding the War on Drugs, this Article considers how legalizing recreational marijuana can help move law and society toward true racial justice, measured by material and actual outcomes for systemically subordinated groups. In the same way that criminalization of marijuana was one of the tools for racial control, legalization of marijuana can be a revenue-based tool toward an anti-subordination future of material equality. While recognizing the shortcomings of reparations initiatives to deliver equality, this Article explores and details how reparations from tax revenue can begin to confront longstanding racial damage. It concludes that reparation initiatives must be race conscious rather than colorblind. The War on Drugs was, and is still, being disproportionately waged against people of color. As such, measures to confront the damage must be race conscious too.

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