Former Housing and Urban Improvement Secretary Julián Castro proposed a criminal justice strategy pledging that if he is elected president he will legalize marijuana, expunge prior cannabis convictions and invest in communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition.

The “First Possibility Program,” released on Wednesday, is developed to take a preventative method to folks getting into the criminal justice technique when also delivering sources for these who’ve currently been incarcerated. The 2020 Democratic candidate pointed to the war on drugs as an instance of a policy that “became a siege against folks who are poor, the most vulnerable people, and the most marginalized communities.”

“Today extra than two million folks are incarcerated, and extra than half a million people are locked up for non-violent drug offenses, disproportionately young African American and Latino males,” he stated. “The human expenses are staggering: households torn apart, billions wasted in taxpayer dollars, and the lost prospective of a generation.”

Castro stated punitive federal drug laws, which includes the 1994 crime bill that yet another candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, played a top part in enacting, have “enabled the more than-policing of communities of colour, building a technique of mass incarceration and a significantly less just nation.”

To appropriate the trouble, addiction really should be treated like a public overall health situation, Castro stated. Treating the trouble by means of the criminal justice technique has “shattered communities, strengthened criminal groups, and locked up these who did not deserve it.”

Though not explicitly endorsing the decriminalization of drug possession as some other candidates have, Castro is calling to “end the War on Drugs” and “address the opioid crisis and other challenges of drug addiction as mostly public overall health problems, not seek to additional harm the people and communities suffering addiction.”

“As president, I will bring our misguided War on Drugs to an finish.”

That entails legalizing cannabis, expunging the records of these with non-violent marijuana convictions on their record and putting a federal tax on sales, when working with that income to enable these most impacted by prohibition.

“We will regulate the industry and location a tax on all recreational sales, investing billions in income generated in the communities disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs,” the strategy says.

In order to market equity in the legal business, Castro stated he would also generate grant applications “that assistance minority-owned companies and prioritize folks straight impacted by the war on drugs in getting marijuana small business licenses.”

The wide-ranging strategy also consists of proposals to finish drug sentencing disparities for crack and powder cocaine, as effectively as launch a federal assessment of all sentencing recommendations to cease other racial disparities.

Castro stated he’d launch initiatives aimed at stopping misuse of what he known as “dangerous” drugs and treating addiction. Additional, he pledged that pharmaceutical businesses whose actions contributed to the country’s opioid trouble would be held accountable “for their part in the suffering of millions.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-IVT), a rival presidential candidate, rolled out his personal marijuana-focused strategy on Thursday that pledges to deschedule the substances inside the initially 100 days of his administration, ban tobacco businesses from participating in the business and encourage nonprofit small business models.

And former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), yet another contender, also released a strategy on Thursday that emphasizes the have to have to treat addiction in the public overall health sector. His proposals consist of decriminalizing possession of all drugs and investing in harm reduction applications such as needle exchanges and supervised consumption web pages.

Like a number of other presidential candidates, Castro stated he would use presidential clemency powers to promptly impact alter in the criminal justice technique. He pledged to generate an independent commission to assessment the thousands of situations of non-violent drug offenders serving time in federal prison, with the panel generating suggestions to him about clemency possibilities.

“This is the single greatest step we can take to promptly decrease the unacceptable size of our prison population and set an instance for the rest of the nation that the era of mass incarceration have to finish,” he stated.

“There are an estimated 17,000-plus folks serving unjust and excessive sentences in federal prisons correct now, generally for non-violent drug offenses.”

He is also pledging to “pass legislation requiring states that get advantages to lift the lifetime ban on Supplemental Nutrition Help System (SNAP) and Short-term Help for Needy Households (TANF) advantages for folks with felony drug convictions.”

Notably, Castro recognized that reform in the federal prison technique is not sufficient to finish mass incarceration. That is why he’s proposing “a best-to-bottom audit of every single federal dollar to uncover the techniques in which the federal government subsidizes cruel and damaging practices in state and regional prison systems, and assistance efforts to redirect sources towards restorative justice.”

Other non-drug certain reform proposals in his strategy consist of abolishing money bail and mandatory minimum sentences, ending the death penalty and solitary confinement and restoring voting rights for people who have been incarcerated.

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Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.

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