Pay close attention, because the your base surely is:
The issue today is a pillar of progressive politics, but not because of graying hippies who like their Rocky Mountain High. Rather, for many Democrats, legalization has become a litmus test for candidates’ commitment to equal treatment for all races in policing and criminal justice as well as fighting economic inequality.
Numerous states already have or soon will legalize the use of marijuana in one shape or another, but North Carolina (not to mention the Federal government) is still incarcerating tens of thousands under its misguided "War On Drugs" mentality. You can beat somebody until they're almost lifeless, or defraud them out of their family's meager savings, and get less jail time than having a half-pound of a certain plant, and when that insanely warped system of (in)justice falls heavily on young black males, the motives behind it become crystal clear:
“A Democrat who is not on board with legalization or addressing it in terms of repairing harms brought by prohibition for decades is going to have a tough time convincing any voter they’re serious about racial justice,” said Vincent M. Southerland, executive director of the Center on Race, Inequality and the Law at New York University Law School.
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey last month introduced the pointedly named Marijuana Justice Act, which would remove the drug from the federal list of controlled substances and expunge past convictions. Supporters note that African-Americans are almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, even though rates of use are similar.
“It’s not enough to legalize marijuana at the federal level — we should also help those who have suffered due to its prohibition,” Mr. Booker said in a tweet.
I've had discussions about this with dozens of active Democrats over the last few years, and the vast majority of them will lead their arguments from an economic (gain) perspective. Understand, there's nothing wrong with including those aspects in a multi-tier approach, but when you get done with your spiel without mentioning all the wrongly imprisoned, mostly African-Americans? And when somebody reminds you of that factor, and you say, "Yeah, that's a problem too" or something along those lines, you come off as a navel-gazing, empathy-lacking neophyte. That may seem a harsh assessment, but such an approach belies your true understanding of both the big picture and the small.
As with any policy issue, you must first pursue a "stop harm" approach, before you gravitate (graduate?) to refinement issues, however helpful they are for socioeconomic growth. You cannot form a more just society by ignoring injustice. Shouldn't need to say that, but apparently I do.
The guy in the picture
is one of several Alabama prisoners given a life sentence for possessing more than 2.2 pounds of marijuana. A life sentence.