School or College:
My research seeks to address the public health crisis of mass incarceration and the overrepresentation of communities of color in the United States criminal justice system. Mass incarceration is caused in part by the criminalization of people who use drugs, including the “war on drugs”, launched in the 1970s. Efforts have been made to reduce incarceration rates, including the decriminalization and legalization of cannabis for adult use. The broad goal of my research is to examine the ways in which cannabis legalization may ameliorate or perpetuate the harms done by the war on drugs, particularly among youth of color. More specifically, my research will measure changes in cannabis-related arrest and citation rates among persons under the age of 21 in the era of cannabis legalization, and identify variations across subpopulations. Further, I will explore youths’ perceptions and experiences with school-based discipline and criminal justice involvement for cannabis or other drug offenses.
My research will provide insights into the ways in which cannabis policy improves or worsens the issue of criminal justice involvement for youth. Prior studies in this important area are limited so this research is necessary as cannabis legalization becomes more widespread. The findings will be relevant to policy makers in MA and elsewhere seeking to minimize unintended consequences of cannabis legalization for persons under the age of 21.