In October, 2018, Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah presented a a TEDx talk as part of the TEDx Mississauga series. His talk, The Untapped Promise of Cannabis Legalization, discusses the people who have been most impacted by drug (particularly cannabis) prohibition, and explains how the economic benefits of legalization can be used to promote positive social change. One of the new forms of injustice stemming from the war on drugs is the inability of people, who were made targets, to benefit from the fruits of legalization. The current discussion surrounding economic prosperity from cannabis legalization has shadowed some of the momentous social opportunities that legalization provides us with. Professor Owusu-Bempah identifies some ways to repair what has happened under prohibition laws, which have targeted black, Indigenous, Asian and Latino populations. People who have been convicted of crimes that are no longer illegal should receive expungement, rather than a pardon, so that their criminal records can be completely erased. They should also have the opportunity to benefit from the fruits of legalization, and the government should reinvest some tax revenues generated from the sale of legal cannabis back into communities most harmed by prohibition.
Watch the full TED talk here.
Professor Owusu-Bempah is an Assistant Professor of Sociology with teaching responsibilities at the UTM camps. His research is focused on three main areas: Policing, youth marginalization and exclusion, and race. He is particularly interested in how people of the African Diaspora (African Canadians, African Americans) perceive and experience law enforcement and punishment. His research has recently been published in the scholarly journals Policing and Society, Crime and Justice, and Theoretical Criminology.