Cannabis prohibition's racial and gender disparities continue to thrive in the legalized cannabis industry: Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah publishes new article on The Globe and Mail

October 16, 2020 by Sarah Tran

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah recently co-authored an article titled "Who is profiting off of cannabis in Canada? Not those who suffered most under cannabis prohibition" on The Globe and Mail with Nazlee Maghsoudi, a Knowledge Translation Manager at the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation (CDPE) and a Doctoral Candidate in Health Services Research at the University of Toronto. This article reflects on the racial and gender disparities during the cannabis prohibition that continue today in the legalized cannabis industry.

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) campus. His research focuses on the intersection of race, policing, and social justice. Professor Owusu-Bempah frequently provides commentary to public and governmental agencies, community organizations, and media outlets regarding topics of race, policing, and social justice.

We have included an excerpt of the article below. Read the full post on The Globe and Mail.

Who is profiting off of cannabis in Canada? Not those who suffered most under cannabis prohibition
By Nazlee Maghsoudi and Dr. Akwasi Owusu-Bempah
Weds., Oct. 14, 2020

It is becoming increasingly recognized that drug laws have long been used as a tool for policing and controlling Black and Brown populations, contributing greatly to their overrepresentation in the criminal-justice system. Canada is no exception, although this feature of our past and present has received far less attention than it has in the United States.

As one of the few research efforts on this issue, a forthcoming analysis in the International Journal of Drug Policy demonstrates stark racial and gender disparities in the rates of arrest for simple cannabis possession in five Canadian cities, with Black and Indigenous people (particularly Black and Indigenous men) being more likely to be arrested than white people, despite evidence of similar rates of use across racial groups.

Against such a backdrop, the promise of a newly legalized cannabis industry in Canada was heralded by many as an opportunity to rectify the harms experienced by Black and Indigenous people under cannabis prohibition.

As we approach the two-year anniversary of cannabis legalization, a new policy brief released by the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation and the University of Toronto shows that the potential of a diverse and equitable legal cannabis industry has been far from achieved.