Whoopi Goldberg has had a lengthy relationship with marijuana, which she’s used to combat cramps and to fight headaches caused by glaucoma. The world-famous actress and self-proclaimed activist recently penned a column for local media, supporting New Jersey’s push to legalize cannabis.
Although she’s a celebrity, she reminds readers that she’s just like anyone else who wants to see outdated marijuana policies revised to meet modern need. She’s also a cannabis-related business owner, so she clearly recognizes the economical potential of legalization in her home state.
The following is a re-post of her special for NorthJersey.com
On Monday, the state Legislature will vote on a bill to legalize adult-use marijuana. If passed, Gov. Phil Murphy has pledged to sign it.
As a New Jersey resident — I live in West Orange, a woman, an African-American, and a social-justice advocate, I whole-heartedly support this effort. One of the reasons I chose to make my home in New Jersey was this state’s long history as a beacon of sensible and progressive policies, and legalization will add to this legacy.
I am known as an outspoken proponent for legalization, a position that stems from the fact that I have been a marijuana user since my youth, when I discovered it was the only medicine that could relieve my crippling menstrual cramps without crippling the rest of my life. As I have grown older, and questionably wiser, I have maintained a healthy relationship with marijuana. I now use marijuana, through a vape pen, to relieve headaches from glaucoma.
The arrival of medical marijuana has been a great benefit to many, but medical marijuana only treats a small part of the societal disease that prohibition has created.
Our state, renowned for its tremendous diversity, has a problem. We have used low-level marijuana-related crimes to warehouse people, predominantly young African-American men, for simple possession or small-time sales. The ACLU of New Jersey has estimated that three times as many blacks are incarcerated because of marijuana than whites, even though both blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates.
The cost of maintaining this prison/warehouse mentality costs us, as taxpayers, upwards of $140 million a year. Just imagine what else we could with that money – even if just having it kept in our own pockets.
Instead of waging war on our inner-city neighborhoods, legalization could also help us rebuild them. The current bill would expunge the records of those who have been put through our criminal justice system for prior marijuana offenses, and provide those currently incarcerated with the ability to see their sentences vacated.
The governor has made ensuring equal access for African-American and other minority or women entrepreneurs to the cannabis industry a top priority in the legalization effort. I applaud that, as much as a minority woman who also owns a cannabis-based business as I do an advocate for better laws.
The potential is there for creating jobs – thousands of jobs – especially among the communities where the War of Drugs has left many minority youths with a record that has kept them from finding meaningful and full-time work. Cannabis is a growth industry. In Colorado, legalization has created more than 18,000 full-time jobs. Massachusetts is expected to create nearly 20,000. Oregon created 12,500 jobs that have generated $315 million in wages.
Being a celebrity makes me no different than the countless adults across our state who simply want to be able to access marijuana for their own responsible personal use, I only have been blessed with a large platform from which to seek this change. Until the Legislature’s vote on Monday, I fully intend to use it.
For countless adults across New Jersey, myself included, marijuana has never been about getting high just for the sake of it. And, that’s something that lawmakers on Monday need to remember. The unhinged and dire doomsday prophecies of some simply have not come to fruition elsewhere, nor will they in New Jersey.
At issue is adult-use marijuana, and treating adults as, well, adults. And, when we do that, what will follow – positive societal change – is much more important than not treating us like petty criminals.
This article was first published on https://www.cannabisimp.com.