A Potent Moment assesses the current state of cannabis laws in the United States in the context of broader discussions about drug policy and advances a framework for future efforts to use cannabis legalization to advance social equity. It describes the racist origins of cannabis criminalization and the ways in which the prosecutors of the War on Drugs have disproportionately harmed people of color. It also offers numerous detailed case studies to identify both the successes and failures of the more recent movement to legalize cannabis at the state level, particularly in terms of their efficacy at using cannabis policy to redress social inequality. At the same time, the author considers the difficulty of crafting effective policies in the face of ongoing cannabis criminalization at the federal level, a theme which is present throughout the book as well as in a chapter dedicated to weighing the benefits—but also real dangers—of various proposals for national legalization. A Potent Moment ends with a forceful call to reorient American drug policy away from fear, stigma, and punishment and toward evidence-driven approaches that are applied with compassion.
Jeffrey Moyer is visiting lecturer of public policy at Northeastern University.
Chapter 1: The First Era of Drug Regulation: From the Great Binge to the Great Society
Chapter 2: Racial Inequity and the War on Drugs
Chapter 3: Cannabis Legalization: A New Paradigm of Control?
Chapter 4: Colorado: Legalization Without Equity
Chapter 5: Ohio: Equity Without Legalization
Chapter 6: Massachusetts: A Vision for Social Equity
Chapter 7: Illinois: Policy Design for Social Equity
Chapter 8: New York: Resources for Social Equity
Chapter 9: The War on Drugs and the Fight for Racial Justice in Federal Legalization
Conclusion: From “Halloween Sadism” to Harm Reduction: Moving Toward Equity
About the Author
A Potent Moment: Building Social Equity into Cannabis Legalization is an excellent work on the promises and perils of cannabis legalization. Jeffrey Moyer does an excellent job of identifying cannabis policy as a key site of social equity and restorative justice, and conceptualizes these issues and familiarize readers with the important ways that social justice and cannabis legalization intersect. This work seems to be one of the first that adequately presents an even-handed analysis that is accessible, and one of the first to present a comparative analysis of legalization policy as it is evolving in the United States, each example representing a step along the process of creating more deliberate and effective social equity provisions in legalization policy. Moyer expertly demonstrates how exclusionary patterns are re-created through systemically vested political, economic, and social interests.
Moyer provides a fascinating look at social equity throughout the country. Cannabis advocates and scholars will enjoy going on the journey with him.