The following is a contributed blog post by Crystal Chatman, Smart Justice Ambassador.

I am writing this letter in support of the passage of HB 371, the cannabis legalization bill. I have a hard time understanding why some Delaware lawmakers, including the Governor, are so opposed to ending the prohibition of cannabis for recreational use. Alcohol is legal and causes 2,200 alcohol poisoning deaths per year. It also causes human beings to act in a manner that they normally wouldn’t while under the influence. Although never a justification for abuse or violence, these intoxicated actions can lead to fatal drunk driving accidents, violence, college campus deaths, and fetal alcohol syndrome. We have doctors prescribing pain killers that lead to addiction and overdoses every day, or running the gamut to harder, stronger drugs.

Cannabis has always been a social expression in communities of color, and these are the communities that are being targeted for criminalization for possession of cannabis, even in small quantities. I don’t know of any rehab centers for marijuana. You have rehabs for alcoholism and opioid addiction, but there has never been a need for weed rehab. We might want to take a lesson from the people of the Netherlands and put cannabis in the soft drug category — it is their social norm; destigmatized and decriminalized.

Governor Carney’s veto of this bill will allow people of color to be continually and disproportionately targeted by law enforcement. I think that it is wrong for an individual to potentially be charged and incarcerated for possessing marijuana. It doesn’t make sense to me that alcohol and cigarettes are legally available while marijuana possession and use continue to be punished. Studies have shown the effects of alcohol and tobacco use (including the impacts of secondhand smoke) have caused far more damage to individuals’ mental and physical health than smoking marijuana.

In conclusion, by making HB 371 a law in Delaware, we can take the target off the backs of poor people and people of color while allowing law enforcement to focus on more pressing issues and more serious crimes — because the people who want to smoke weed legally, in peace, aren't the ones most likely to be committing violent crimes.

Crystal Chatman
Smart Justice Ambassador & HB 371 Advocate