You might ask: “why is a marijuana reform group making a post about student debt?”
As we work to legalize marijuana and undo the harms that prohibition and criminalization has inflicted, it is vital to understand who is most impacted: Black Americans.
Considering the compounding impacts of systemic oppression on the pathway to opportunity, the default solution has been a college education.
But as you have likely seen in the news, student debt is at an all-time high. For decades, aspiring students have been unable to obtain any federal loans if they have a marijuana conviction within the last seven years. This means that college-bound Black students are forced to either not go to college or take out private loans with sky-high interest rates. This collateral consequence contributes to Black middle-class kids backsliding into a lower socioeconomic status when they reach adulthood, a phenomenon that rarely happens to middle-class white children.(1)
While the ACLU has found that Black Americans are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for a marijuana-related crime compared to their white counterparts despite similar consumption rates,(2) the Brookings Institution has reported that “the Black-white wage gap is getting worse, while Black communities’ indebtedness is increasing.” They went on to say that “regardless of the incomes they make after graduation, Black households carry more student debt, which pushes down their creditworthiness. Unsurprisingly, then, Black people with a college degree have lower homeownership rates than white high school dropouts.”(3)
In the fight against systemic issues, we must find systemic solutions.
Recently, cannabis reform ally Senator Elizabeth Warren called on President Biden to use his executive powers to cancel student debt and legalize marijuana, saying it would be “the single best opportunity for the President of the United States to help close the Black/white wealth gap.”(4)
Black people need student loan forgiveness AND an end to marijuana prohibition, but we can’t get these done without important allies like you. Thanks for being in this fight.
All Power To The People,
(1) How Black Middle-Class Kids Become Poor Adults
(2) A Tale of Two Countries: Racially Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reform
(3) Student loans, the racial wealth divide, and why we need full student debt cancellation
(4) Elizabeth Warren is blunt: Biden can make the joint decision to cancel student debt and legalize marijuana with a ‘signature on two different pieces of paper’