The “reparations” dust-up may not just be a matter of semantics, though. Some black officials might just be opposing legalized cannabis on principle. There is, as it stands, a history of black politicians taking issue with the idea of legalized drugs—whether cannabis or any other illicit substance—in black communities. James Forman Jr. recounted much of this history in his Pulitzer prize-winning book Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, which talks about the complicated decisions black political and religious leaders made decades ago about drugs that inadvertently exacerbated the drug war and mass incarceration crises.
“The two main things [on racial justice and cannabis legalization] are getting rid of past [drug] convictions and making sure that black and brown and working class and formerly incarcerated people have a chance of being in the [legal cannabis] business,” said Forman in a phone interview with