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Authors

David Schlussel

Abstract

Recreational marijuana is now legal in several states as a result of ballot initiative campaigns. A number of campaigns have framed marijuana legalization using what this Note calls “white individualism.” They have put forth messages and images to implicitly suggest that white, hardworking, middle-class marijuana consumers are deserving beneficiaries of legalized marijuana. This Note examines the appearance of white individualism in the Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska campaigns. It also explores the appearance of racial justice appeals in the California, Ohio, Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts campaigns.

Recreational marijuana is now legal in several states as a result of ballot initiative campaigns. A number of campaigns have framed marijuana legalization using what this Note calls “white individualism.” They have put forth messages and images to implicitly suggest that white, hardworking, middle-class marijuana consumers are deserving beneficiaries of legalized marijuana. This Note examines the appearance of white individualism in the Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska campaigns. It also explores the appearance of racial justice appeals in the California, Ohio, Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts campaigns.

White individualist framing has tended to correlate with post-legalization policies that favor white marijuana entrepreneurs, such as those prohibiting people with marijuana convictions from receiving business licenses, rather than policies that redress harms from prohibition, such as the expungement of criminal records. As many people continue to experience criminalization and racial myths go relatively unchallenged, largely white marijuana entrepreneurs reap legal marijuana’s profits. Marijuana policy should address past harms, this Note argues, because marijuana prohibition was founded and implemented on an unjust basis.

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Link to publisher version (DOI)

10.15779/Z38PZ51K8D