SXSW 2022

How Legalization is Reforming Criminal Justice


It’s been five decades since the US declared a "War on Drugs", and our country's policy of cannabis prohibition continues to destroy millions of lives and devastate countless communities.

​M​arijuana criminalization plays a critical role in fueling the over-policing of American neighborhoods, the mass incarceration of communities of color, and widespread civic and economic disenfranchisement. Broad cannabis reform can be a tool not only to end this ongoing injustice, but to incentivize innovative new reforms to our justice system, such as automatic expungement and resentencing.

An end to prohibition—and the dawn of a common-sense, public health-focused approach to cannabis—will help us combat injustice, bolster our freedoms, and truly reimagine our criminal legal system.

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  1. How can legalizing cannabis at a state and federal level incentivize broad criminal justice reforms?
  2. How do we ensure that these reforms are implemented effectively and expediently?
  3. How can cannabis legalization and the burgeoning cannabis industry create not just justice in our legal system but economic justice?



Sarah Gersten, Executive Director and General Counsel, Last Prisoner Project

Meta Information:

  • Event: SXSW
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Civic Engagement
  • Track 2
  • Level: Beginner

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