If weed is legal, why are so many people still being arrested and locked up for it?

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While Michigan dispensaries collectively bring in millions of dollars every month, Michael Thompson is serving a de facto life sentence in the same state for the very same reason — selling cannabis. 

As the country grapples with both a global pandemic and nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism, cannabis remains at the forefront of the cultural and political conversation. Cannabis was deemed an essential business by nearly all states with a medical or adult-use market during COVID-19, yet its criminalization has resulted in the arrests of millions of Americans, with Black individuals arrested at significantly higher rates than their white counterparts. 

Graphic: Jaclyn Sears

The majority of the population reside in states with legalized medical or adult-use cannabis, and over two-thirds of Americans support legalization. We are leaps and bounds away from the days of reefer madness and Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No campaign, yet thousands of…

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