This issue will be published right before April 20, a day of celebration of all things cannabis. As we prepared this issue, lawmakers in Annapolis were wrapping up the General Assembly with an eye toward July 1, when it becomes legal for adults 21 and over to carry and use small quantities of cannabis and cannabis-related products. A few pieces of the legislation now on Governor Wes Moore’s desk are written with an eye toward progress. For example, one bill says police cannot make stops based only on the scent of weed. Also, lawmakers decided that a percentage of the state’s profits from the sale of cannabis must go to areas that were heavily targeted by law enforcement as part of the failed war on drugs — areas often disinvested and inhabited by Black and Brown people.
My story in this issue highlights a few people and organizations who are working to right the wrongs of the war on drugs by helping people expunge their records.
“In the history of this country, anytime there’s a war, there’s also a period of reconstruction and restoration,” Willie Flowers, president of the Maryland branch of the NAACP, told me. “And reconstruction and restoration for me means putting funds into communities that were devastated by this war on drugs and also restoring the rights…of the people and families victimized during that period.”
Arts and Culture Editor Teri Henderson talked to two people who have turned weed into businesses that sustain and entertain: Ras. Langford “Crucial” Johnson and Paulette Simone Smith.
“These two innovators are among the people leading the green rush in Baltimore City, destigmatizing weed and, like Johnson says, ensuring that ‘Brown faces are in green spaces,’” Henderson writes.
Also in this issue, our friends at Baltimore Courtwatch look at the brutal way our criminal justice system harms our young people. Film critic Dominic Griffin writes about Ben Affleck’s new directorial effort, “Air,” and Iya Osundara gets us together, astrologically, for May.
Thanks for reading!