The Communal Impacts of Drug Criminalization in Maryland

This project attempts to reframe the harms of drug criminalization. Influenced by African-Centered Research Methodologies, we engaged in a literature review and qualitative research of the communal impacts of drug decriminalization in Maryland, with a specific focus on Baltimore.

This project attempts to reframe the harms of drug criminalization. Influenced by African-Centered Research Methodologies, we engaged in a literature review and qualitative research of the communal impacts of drug decriminalization in Maryland, with a specific focus on Baltimore.


You also want an ePaper? Increase the reach of your titles

YUMPU automatically turns print PDFs into web optimized ePapers that Google loves.



DRUG<br />



W<strong>in</strong>ter 2023<br />

Lawerence Grandpre & Natalie Flath<br />

Research Assistant: Judith Park

Table <strong>of</strong> Contents<br />

Executive Summary .....................................................................................3<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Communal</strong> <strong>Impacts</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Drug</strong> <strong>Crim<strong>in</strong>alization</strong> <strong>in</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong><br />

Authors: Lawrence Grandpre, Natalie Flath & Judith Park (Research Assistant)<br />

Acknowledgements .................................................................................................2<br />

Introduction .........................................................................................................14<br />

Scop<strong>in</strong>g Review .....................................................................................................19<br />

Historical Context <strong>of</strong> <strong>Drug</strong> <strong>Crim<strong>in</strong>alization</strong> <strong>in</strong> the US and the <strong>Crim<strong>in</strong>alization</strong> <strong>of</strong><br />

Blackness ..............................................................................................................21<br />

Qualitative Study ..................................................................................................23<br />

Conclusion ............................................................................................................38<br />

Recommendations for Policy Advocates ...............................................................42<br />

Appendix ..............................................................................................................49<br />

References ............................................................................................................51

Acknowledgements<br />

We would like to thank Open Society Foundations for the f<strong>in</strong>anc<strong>in</strong>g that supported<br />

the relationship between University <strong>of</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong> Baltimore School <strong>of</strong><br />

Social Work and Leaders <strong>of</strong> a Beautiful Struggle.<br />

<strong>The</strong> research team would also like to thank the community leaders who took time<br />

out <strong>of</strong> their commitments to <strong>in</strong>terview with us. We are grateful for the faculty<br />

advisory <strong>of</strong><br />

Dr. Corey Shdaimah and Dr. Brook Kearley.<br />

Most <strong>of</strong> all, the university-based research team are forever grateful for the<br />

mentorship, guidance, and patience from Lawrence Grandpre, who has taught<br />

us so much about what it means to work and live <strong>in</strong> anti-racist praxis.<br />

Authors<br />

Lawrence Grandpre<br />

Director <strong>of</strong> Research<br />

Leaders <strong>of</strong> a Beautiful<br />

Struggle<br />

Natalie Flath<br />

University <strong>of</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong><br />

Baltimore<br />

School <strong>of</strong> Social Work<br />

Judith Park<br />

University <strong>of</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong><br />

Baltimore<br />

School <strong>of</strong> Social Work<br />

2 <strong>of</strong> 55

Executive Summary<br />

Written by: Lawrence Grandpre<br />

Overview<br />

This project attempts to reframe the harms <strong>of</strong> drug<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>alization. Influenced by African-Centered Research<br />

Methodologies, we engaged <strong>in</strong> a literature review and<br />

qualitative research <strong>of</strong> the communal impacts <strong>of</strong> drug<br />

decrim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>in</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong>, with a specific focus on<br />

Baltimore.<br />

We discovered that targeted hyper-<strong>in</strong>carceration driven by drug<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>alization has harmed communities' ability to exercise<br />

self-determ<strong>in</strong>ation and thus exacerbates the impacts <strong>of</strong> white<br />

supremacy and anti-Blackness. Moreover, we f<strong>in</strong>d that the<br />

erosion <strong>of</strong> community capacity from targeted hyper<strong>in</strong>carceration<br />

via drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization has brought with it an<br />

ecosystem <strong>of</strong> nonpr<strong>of</strong>its centered on addiction that has harmed<br />

community capacity for self-governance.<br />

This analysis makes the case that decrim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>of</strong> drugs<br />

must be accompanied by a vision <strong>of</strong> reparations for the War on<br />

<strong>Drug</strong>s to accomplish the social justice outcomes advocates seek.<br />

Also, this perspective may be necessary to generate the political<br />

support for the successful passage and implementation <strong>of</strong> the<br />

policy.<br />

Decrim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>in</strong> Black and White.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Racial Politics <strong>of</strong> “Decrim” and the Need for a New Narrative.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re is an emerg<strong>in</strong>g “standard narrative” around advanc<strong>in</strong>g drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization, used<br />

by many advocates <strong>of</strong> all races and backgrounds. To summarize, it argues that overdose<br />

deaths from a toxic drug supply are exacerbated by the social disruption, health impact,<br />

and decreased tolerance created by <strong>in</strong>carceration <strong>of</strong> those suffer<strong>in</strong>g substance use<br />

dependency, a reality driven by the crim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>of</strong> drug possession. Polic<strong>in</strong>g and<br />

<strong>in</strong>carceration are <strong>in</strong>effective deterrents to drug use, which should be seen as a public<br />

health problem. This means police are “wast<strong>in</strong>g money” on bust<strong>in</strong>g recreational drug use,<br />

money which decrim<strong>in</strong>alization (colloquially referred to as “decrim”) would free up. <strong>The</strong><br />

policy is <strong>of</strong>ten sold as free<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>dividuals to safely pursue drug use without the risk <strong>of</strong><br />

overdose or the threat <strong>of</strong> police <strong>in</strong>tervention. F<strong>in</strong>ally, public health <strong>of</strong>ficials are presented<br />

as trusted authorities who serve the community through overdose prevention and<br />

“evidence-based” addiction treatment, paid for <strong>in</strong> part by money saved from police<br />

budgets.<br />

If lawmakers and constituents could hear this argument, the advocacy strategy went, then<br />

they would create the proper political conditions to push the policy through the state<br />

capitals around the country.<br />

While the standard narrative <strong>of</strong> decrim<strong>in</strong>alization has persuasive value, the manner <strong>in</strong><br />

which I heard it presented took on an air <strong>of</strong> “common sense” that at times felt like<br />

3 <strong>of</strong> 55

“groupth<strong>in</strong>k”. Also, I realize this fram<strong>in</strong>g has limitations. This analysis, after all, frames<br />

the issue through the lens <strong>of</strong> “cost sav<strong>in</strong>gs,” which can work aga<strong>in</strong>st the notion <strong>of</strong><br />

economic redistribution, and “elite expertise,” which can work aga<strong>in</strong>st notions <strong>of</strong><br />

participatory democracy.<br />

I, Lawrence, a co-author <strong>of</strong> the research report, is a community researcher work<strong>in</strong>g with a<br />

grassroots th<strong>in</strong>k tank which does extensive political advocacy on issues rang<strong>in</strong>g from<br />

police accountability to cannabis legalization from an explicitly Pan African/Black<br />

nationalist lens. This puts me <strong>in</strong> conversation with a broad cross-section <strong>of</strong> “black civil<br />

society,” the community groups which make up so much <strong>of</strong> Black political and civic life <strong>in</strong><br />

a city like Baltimore. Upon be<strong>in</strong>g presented with this standard narrative <strong>of</strong> drug<br />

decrim<strong>in</strong>alization, I was not surprised to f<strong>in</strong>d many <strong>of</strong> those who heard this argument<br />

were generally unenthusiastic or even resistive to drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization, despite<br />

support<strong>in</strong>g progressive policy and even progressive drug policy <strong>in</strong> the past. <strong>The</strong> comments<br />

presented <strong>in</strong> the “standard narrative” on decrim varied, but mostly diverged from one<br />

central po<strong>in</strong>t; White supremacy and anti-blackness create addiction, street-level drug<br />

sales, survival economics, and the nonpr<strong>of</strong>it <strong>in</strong>dustrial complex, and these operate <strong>in</strong><br />

ways that decrim theorists do not fully understand, turn<strong>in</strong>g the solutions decrim<br />

advocates present, which sound good <strong>in</strong> theory, <strong>in</strong>to <strong>in</strong>effectual or even dangerous <strong>in</strong><br />

reality.<br />

Given that many <strong>of</strong> the civic groups that have been essential to the successful passage <strong>of</strong><br />

progressive legislation <strong>in</strong> the state capital <strong>of</strong> Annapolis <strong>in</strong> the past have been resistant to<br />

this standard narrative <strong>of</strong> decrim, it did not bode well for the political stakes for this<br />

essential issue.<br />

This research project is an attempt to br<strong>in</strong>g these stories to the larger drug policy<br />

community, to create a space for these voices to be heard, as they are <strong>of</strong>ten not sought out<br />

to engage <strong>in</strong> conversation on drug policy, or worse, actively seen as antagonistic to drug<br />

policy reform.<br />

<strong>The</strong> result, we hope, is the beg<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> redef<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g how advocates and researchers<br />

understand the harms <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization. Instead <strong>of</strong> a story <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>dividuals be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

harmed by a bad policy, drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization should <strong>in</strong>stead be seen as communities<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g harmed by a system <strong>of</strong> White supremacy that produces anti-Black policy (<strong>of</strong> which<br />

drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization is just one example).<br />

Seen from this perspective, a new frame for drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization can emerge, one<br />

which places reparation for the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s at its center. This reframed<br />

decrim<strong>in</strong>alization policy is not only more socially just, but it may also be politically<br />

necessary for decrim<strong>in</strong>alization to pass <strong>in</strong> a state like <strong>Maryland</strong>, whose population is over<br />

30 percent African-American and which has one <strong>of</strong> the largest state legislative Black<br />

caucuses <strong>in</strong> the United States (1).<br />

4 <strong>of</strong> 55

From the Bottom Up. A New Approach to<br />

Research<strong>in</strong>g <strong>Drug</strong> <strong>Crim<strong>in</strong>alization</strong><br />

This project also set out to set a new framework for<br />

research methodologies around drug policy. A<br />

standard participatory action research (PAR) model<br />

leaves the researchers to design much <strong>of</strong> the core<br />

theory, metric, and concepts guid<strong>in</strong>g the research,<br />

lead<strong>in</strong>g community partners to do much <strong>of</strong> the leg<br />

work, e.g., do<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>terviews and collect<strong>in</strong>g data that<br />

serves <strong>in</strong> the model the researcher largely formed.<br />

This can be criticized by some, <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g me, as too<br />

<strong>of</strong>ten replicat<strong>in</strong>g the hierarchies PAR <strong>of</strong>ten claims to<br />

be study<strong>in</strong>g, with community partner’s <strong>in</strong>put largely<br />

relegated to data collection, not the design <strong>of</strong> research<br />

methodology and <strong>in</strong>terpretation <strong>of</strong> that data (2).<br />

Our process flipped this dynamic, with the<br />

community researchers choos<strong>in</strong>g to center the<br />

analysis on how drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization impacts social<br />

capital and community capacity to build selfgoverned<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitutions, with the goal <strong>of</strong> creat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

recommendations for how drug policy can repair this<br />

harm by <strong>in</strong>vest<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> communities most impacted by<br />

drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization to exercise self-determ<strong>in</strong>ation.<br />

<strong>The</strong> traditional researchers then filled <strong>in</strong> much leg work, engag<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> an extensive literature<br />

review process to see what traditional academics had to say on this issue (synopsis: not much)<br />

then engag<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> qualitative research with a representative cross-section <strong>of</strong> community<br />

experts.<br />

F<strong>in</strong>ally, expertise was def<strong>in</strong>ed beyond personal experience or academic/pr<strong>of</strong>essional expertise<br />

alone, but specifically with folks who have demonstrated a track record <strong>of</strong> not only work<strong>in</strong>g on<br />

addiction, but also work<strong>in</strong>g on the issue <strong>in</strong> a way that reflects the culture <strong>of</strong> the impacted<br />

communities and their work. Specifically, hav<strong>in</strong>g an analysis <strong>of</strong> the collective impact <strong>of</strong><br />

crim<strong>in</strong>alization on hurt<strong>in</strong>g community <strong>in</strong>stitutions’ capacity to practice self-determ<strong>in</strong>ation<br />

(though collective dis<strong>in</strong>vestment from community organizations and through the nonpr<strong>of</strong>it<br />

<strong>in</strong>dustrial complex) has impacted their work.<br />

This work was framed through the lens <strong>of</strong> engagement between community scholars guid<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the process through the use <strong>of</strong> African-Centered Research paradigm and traditional academics<br />

<strong>in</strong>corporat<strong>in</strong>g elements <strong>of</strong> these approaches <strong>in</strong>to their work (3).<br />

By present<strong>in</strong>g the voices <strong>of</strong> community experts traditionally marg<strong>in</strong>alized <strong>in</strong> drug policy<br />

spaces, our research <strong>of</strong>fers an opportunity to start the process <strong>of</strong> br<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g tools <strong>of</strong> analysis<br />

from the black radical tradition <strong>in</strong>to drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization/harm reduction work.<br />

5 <strong>of</strong> 55

Decrim<strong>in</strong>alize Blackness First<br />

“It’s tough for me because I live <strong>in</strong> a community, and I have a child and I don’t th<strong>in</strong>k that<br />

everyone should just be out here sell<strong>in</strong>g drugs. I’ve seen first-hand people kill<strong>in</strong>g each<br />

other over drugs and that has to stop as well. I’m not anti-(de)crim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>of</strong><br />

substances, but we can't (de)crim<strong>in</strong>alize and not improve the conditions that facilitate the<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>ality at the same time. It places the blame on people, usually people <strong>of</strong> color,<br />

people who are poor, people who have less education. It doesn’t fall on the powers that be<br />

and the people with money.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> quote above encapsulates a common sentiment among <strong>in</strong>terviewees. Interviewees<br />

overwhelm<strong>in</strong>gly saw overdose, addiction, and crim<strong>in</strong>alization as an expression <strong>of</strong> a system<br />

<strong>of</strong> oppression, and expressed concerns the decrim didn’t speak explicitly to this system <strong>of</strong><br />

oppression. Without a clear theory <strong>of</strong> redistribution <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>vestment tied to decrim, the<br />

policy, while receiv<strong>in</strong>g support, was also seen as not giv<strong>in</strong>g the <strong>in</strong>frastructure for<br />

<strong>in</strong>dividuals to fight these systems. Interviewees talked about polic<strong>in</strong>g be<strong>in</strong>g a system <strong>of</strong><br />

anti-black violence stemm<strong>in</strong>g from slave patrols, even mention<strong>in</strong>g well-known <strong>in</strong>stances <strong>in</strong><br />

Baltimore's recent history where the police themselves were implicated <strong>in</strong> sell<strong>in</strong>g the very<br />

drugs progressive advocates seek to decrim<strong>in</strong>alize (4).<br />

If polic<strong>in</strong>g is seen as not driven by bad policy, but as an extension <strong>of</strong> a larger societal thrust<br />

<strong>of</strong> anti-blackness, then the benefit <strong>of</strong> elim<strong>in</strong>at<strong>in</strong>g possession <strong>of</strong>fenses would seem to be<br />

m<strong>in</strong>imal, a f<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g receiv<strong>in</strong>g academic support from analyses observed that after the<br />

decrim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>of</strong> cannabis, some <strong>Maryland</strong> police departments compensated for lower<br />

cannabis arrests for <strong>in</strong>creased arrests for other <strong>of</strong>fenses (5).<br />

Advocates discussed police brutality and fights for police accountability. <strong>Drug</strong><br />

decrim<strong>in</strong>alization advocates, while speak<strong>in</strong>g on the subject occasionally, were not seen as<br />

trusted allies <strong>in</strong> the long fight to deconstruct the system <strong>of</strong> racist social control, examples<br />

<strong>of</strong> anti-Black violence beyond polic<strong>in</strong>g, school<strong>in</strong>g, child welfare systems, gentrification, and<br />

the non-pr<strong>of</strong>it <strong>in</strong>dustrial complex.<br />

Our <strong>in</strong>terviews made it clear, it is not that they were aga<strong>in</strong>st the<br />

decrim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>of</strong> drugs, but that until decrim advocates expressed a larger<br />

commitment to help<strong>in</strong>g their fight aga<strong>in</strong>st the crim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>of</strong> be<strong>in</strong>g Black<br />

<strong>in</strong> America, decrim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>of</strong> drugs would not be their top concern.<br />

6 <strong>of</strong> 55

<strong>Crim<strong>in</strong>alization</strong> Hurt Communities,<br />

Decrim Must Build <strong>The</strong>m Up<br />

“<strong>The</strong>re was a man... he had had some active addictions<br />

and had been <strong>in</strong> like gangs, and he was like, ‘look, if<br />

you want me <strong>of</strong>f my hero<strong>in</strong>, you're gonna have to<br />

create a better friendship community, cause hero<strong>in</strong> is<br />

really faithful. It'll be there when everybody else<br />

disappears.’”<br />

One <strong>of</strong> the surpris<strong>in</strong>g elements <strong>of</strong> the conversation is<br />

how little the <strong>in</strong>terviewees talked about overdose. While<br />

our research didn’t explicitly focus on overdose,<br />

substance use disorder and the communal impacts <strong>of</strong><br />

systemic racism were center among <strong>in</strong>terviewees.<br />

Additionally, many <strong>in</strong>terviewees expressed an analysis<br />

<strong>of</strong> addiction far beyond the medical model <strong>of</strong> addiction,<br />

ty<strong>in</strong>g addiction to the historical legacy <strong>of</strong> slavery and<br />

Jim Crow, trauma from experienc<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>terpersonal and<br />

structural violence, poverty, isolation, and <strong>in</strong>ternalized<br />

racial self-hatred.<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>in</strong>terviewees' poignant quote about hero<strong>in</strong> be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

there “when others leave” should be seen as core to<br />

understand<strong>in</strong>g the communal impact <strong>of</strong> drug<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>alization. Echo<strong>in</strong>g the work <strong>of</strong> former Rutgers<br />

pr<strong>of</strong>essor Todd Clear’s work on targeted hyper<strong>in</strong>carceration<br />

from drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization creat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

“coercive mobility” that destabiliz<strong>in</strong>g communities and<br />

perversely, <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>g crime, <strong>in</strong>terviewees stated that<br />

constant cycl<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> community members <strong>in</strong> and out <strong>of</strong><br />

jail due to hyper-<strong>in</strong>carceration produced a decrease <strong>in</strong><br />

collective efficacy, harm<strong>in</strong>g the ability <strong>of</strong> communities to<br />

produce community <strong>in</strong>stitutions that can build<br />

alternatives to the street economy (6).<br />

However, our <strong>in</strong>terviewees isolated many factors beyond<br />

the scope <strong>of</strong> Clear’s analysis. While Clear laments the<br />

loss <strong>of</strong> “<strong>in</strong>formal social control” many <strong>of</strong> our<br />

<strong>in</strong>terviewees challenged the basic notion that sell<strong>in</strong>g<br />

drugs should be seen as crim<strong>in</strong>ality (or need<strong>in</strong>g social<br />

control), see<strong>in</strong>g it as survival economics and an<br />

understandable, if problematic, response to centuries <strong>of</strong><br />

anti-Black violence. Interviewees asserted that drug<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>alization created degrees <strong>of</strong> trauma given the<br />

Black community's historical experience with anti-Black<br />

violence, creat<strong>in</strong>g a strong demand among <strong>in</strong>terviewees<br />

for culturally specific responses rather than the generic<br />

“community <strong>in</strong>vestment.”<br />

7 <strong>of</strong> 55

Indeed, this quote comes from a former addict who used Chi-gong as a form <strong>of</strong> addiction<br />

prevention, only to f<strong>in</strong>d the <strong>in</strong>stitution he worked with impacted by a foundation shift <strong>in</strong> focus<br />

from addiction treatment to “trauma.” “Trauma <strong>in</strong>formed” care is presented by some as a “best<br />

practice” for address<strong>in</strong>g social determ<strong>in</strong>ants <strong>of</strong> health care, so it be<strong>in</strong>g identified as trad<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong>f<br />

with grassroots community attempts to address the harms <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization. This<br />

exemplifies the need to center def<strong>in</strong>itions <strong>of</strong> “anti-racism” produced by the communities most<br />

impacted by White Supremacy/anti-Blackness. Moreover, the collapse <strong>of</strong> community<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitutions created after a flood <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>terest and donations after the Baltimore Upris<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> 2015<br />

was noted as demonstrat<strong>in</strong>g the lack <strong>of</strong> care powerful <strong>in</strong>stitutions had for the humanity <strong>of</strong><br />

Black people, creat<strong>in</strong>g a further sense <strong>of</strong> distrust <strong>of</strong> philanthropic <strong>in</strong>stitutions.<br />

Our research shows it is unlikely, without the explicit and <strong>in</strong>tentional<br />

commitment <strong>of</strong> community control, even the most well-<strong>in</strong>tentioned philanthropic<br />

<strong>in</strong>vestments will be embraced <strong>in</strong> communities most actually impacted by drug<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>alization.<br />

Crime and Social Control Fears Constra<strong>in</strong><br />

Black Community Support for <strong>Drug</strong><br />

Decrim<strong>in</strong>alization<br />

“I support the decrim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>of</strong> certa<strong>in</strong> drugs to<br />

use the revenue to uplift vulnerable people. You got to<br />

th<strong>in</strong>k, will the money be used like that? …if … it's not<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g used to provide job opportunities, etc., then you<br />

will see more desperation <strong>in</strong> the streets, and I th<strong>in</strong>k<br />

that could <strong>in</strong>crease crime. In many ways, this is sad.<br />

However, this is a consequence <strong>of</strong> racial control…We<br />

need to th<strong>in</strong>k about this collectively.” (J)<br />

Many <strong>in</strong>terviewees also conflated decrim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>of</strong><br />

opioids and other drugs with decrim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>of</strong><br />

cannabis, view<strong>in</strong>g both through their experience as<br />

people who live <strong>in</strong> communities impacted by the streetlevel<br />

drug trade. Our analysis shows the relationship<br />

between public perception <strong>of</strong> cannabis<br />

decrim<strong>in</strong>alization and public perception <strong>of</strong> opioid<br />

decrim<strong>in</strong>alization, specifically <strong>in</strong> the Black community,<br />

may be under-theorized <strong>in</strong> drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization<br />

spaces. Some <strong>in</strong> pro decrim<strong>in</strong>alization advocates <strong>in</strong><br />

drug policy spaces have argued that cannabis<br />

legalization is a test case for opioid decrim<strong>in</strong>alization.<br />

From the perspective <strong>of</strong> some <strong>in</strong> the drug policy<br />

community, cannabis was decrim<strong>in</strong>alization<br />

legalization with m<strong>in</strong>imum social ramification, prov<strong>in</strong>g<br />

we can decrim<strong>in</strong>alize other substances as well. Our<br />

f<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>gs show this may not be a view shared by some<br />

on the ground <strong>in</strong> communities most impacted by the<br />

War on <strong>Drug</strong>s.<br />

Many <strong>in</strong>terviewees experienced cannabis<br />

decrim<strong>in</strong>alization as part <strong>of</strong> a gateway to cannabis<br />

8 <strong>of</strong> 55

legalization, which was sold as suck<strong>in</strong>g money out <strong>of</strong> the<br />

market for illegal sales and <strong>in</strong>to white-dom<strong>in</strong>ant<br />

markets outside <strong>of</strong> community control. Interviewees<br />

expressed concern about the disruption <strong>of</strong> survival<br />

economics through cannabis legalization, and fear that<br />

economic desperation might lead to people pursu<strong>in</strong>g<br />

other forms <strong>of</strong> survival economics that are more<br />

disruptive <strong>of</strong> the community fabric (like theft and armed<br />

robbery). <strong>The</strong>y also expressed frustration that none <strong>of</strong><br />

the economic benefits <strong>of</strong> cannabis legalization seem to<br />

be flow<strong>in</strong>g to the communities most impacted by the<br />

War on <strong>Drug</strong>s.<br />

This should be read with<strong>in</strong> the context <strong>of</strong> the Black<br />

community's experience <strong>of</strong> drugs as a tool <strong>of</strong> social<br />

society. Many <strong>in</strong> the Black community perceive the<br />

<strong>in</strong>creased accessibility <strong>of</strong> crack coca<strong>in</strong>e <strong>in</strong> the 1980s as<br />

tied to federal government action. <strong>The</strong> documented<br />

l<strong>in</strong>ks between the drug deal<strong>in</strong>g organization led by<br />

“Freeway” Rick Ross with coca<strong>in</strong>e suppliers tied to the<br />

U.S. backed political opposition group, Contras, shows a<br />

strong possibility that money from US drug sales may<br />

have been given to support rebels <strong>in</strong> Guatemala (7). This<br />

created the perception by many that the federal<br />

government forced, or at least allowed, crack to flood<br />

<strong>in</strong>to the Black community to create a stream <strong>of</strong> <strong>of</strong>f-thebooks<br />

fund<strong>in</strong>g for CIA support <strong>of</strong> death squads, while<br />

also destabiliz<strong>in</strong>g the Black community <strong>in</strong> the wake <strong>of</strong><br />

the <strong>in</strong>creased Black electoral power <strong>in</strong> American cities<br />

and the Black Power movement. Moreover, the supply<br />

and promotion <strong>of</strong> psychedelics was explicitly theorized<br />

by Jolly West, one <strong>of</strong> the most <strong>in</strong>famous scientists<br />

associated with the covert government psychedelic<br />

experimentation program known as UK-ULTRA, as a<br />

potential strategy <strong>of</strong> government control <strong>of</strong> the populace<br />

(8). This means that, both drug prohibition and<br />

liberalization <strong>of</strong> drug laws are seen by the Black<br />

community as potential vectors <strong>of</strong> social control. Our<br />

work shows this anxiety, rather than be<strong>in</strong>g relieved by<br />

cannabis legalization, may be <strong>in</strong> fact exacerbated by<br />

cannabis legalization and decrim<strong>in</strong>alization.<br />

<strong>The</strong> communal disruption caused by hyper<strong>in</strong>carceration<br />

has led to <strong>in</strong>tense trauma by facilitat<strong>in</strong>g a<br />

culture <strong>of</strong> violence tied to illegal drug sales.<br />

Decrim<strong>in</strong>alization thus flairs up server concerns that<br />

liberalization <strong>of</strong> possession laws might facilitate<br />

<strong>in</strong>creased street drug sales, which <strong>in</strong>terviewees are<br />

concerned about not primarily because <strong>of</strong> some moral<br />

objection to drug use, but concern that it will fuel the<br />

9 <strong>of</strong> 55

crim<strong>in</strong>al elements <strong>in</strong>volved <strong>in</strong> the illicit drug trade, lead<strong>in</strong>g to more street violence. <strong>The</strong><br />

standard argument from decrim advocates, that decrim does not lead to more street drug<br />

sales, does not address this concern, as community members expressed concern not only<br />

about decrim mak<strong>in</strong>g th<strong>in</strong>gs worse, but the perpetuation <strong>of</strong> a status quo reality <strong>of</strong><br />

violence they deem unacceptable.<br />

Multiple <strong>in</strong>terviewees brought up the anti-violence legacy <strong>of</strong> community-led <strong>in</strong>stitutions<br />

like the Nation <strong>of</strong> Islam and the Black church, demonstrat<strong>in</strong>g the secular, public health,<br />

and human social service focus that has dom<strong>in</strong>ated the conversation around drug decrim<br />

and how <strong>of</strong>ten it fails to engage critical stakeholders.<br />

Any drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization policy seek<strong>in</strong>g to ga<strong>in</strong> support from people who<br />

have framed drug policy liberalization as a tool for social control and<br />

community destabilization must center a comprehensive response to street<br />

violence and empower communities to address their own problems.<br />

Go Back to Go Forward-Locat<strong>in</strong>g Public<br />

Health’s Place <strong>in</strong> <strong>The</strong> History and Present<br />

<strong>of</strong> Anti-Blackness<br />

“I've worked <strong>in</strong> recovery homes, drug court<br />

programs, op/<strong>in</strong>-patient, medication management<br />

cl<strong>in</strong>ics, everywhere…the truth <strong>of</strong> the matter is that it<br />

is driven by money. How much time is [it] go<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

take someone to move through our treatment<br />

protocols? So that way we can prove to the state that<br />

we are meet<strong>in</strong>g our goals, and that way we can<br />

prove that we deserve more money than the<br />

university. How much money do we have to do<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs, to take clients <strong>in</strong>to the community, or to do<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs socially with clients? How much <strong>of</strong> the<br />

creation <strong>of</strong> alternative programm<strong>in</strong>g is go<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

take away from this primary programm<strong>in</strong>g that we<br />

feel is more efficacious than whatever the alternative<br />

programm<strong>in</strong>g is, and more <strong>in</strong> alignment with<br />

potentially the fund<strong>in</strong>g sources? <strong>The</strong> drive is <strong>of</strong><br />

course more about how do we keep our jobs? How<br />

do we keep money com<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>?”<br />

Overall, advocates spoke on the history <strong>of</strong> Baltimore,<br />

as a comprehensive web <strong>of</strong> oppressive <strong>in</strong>stitutions.<br />

One <strong>of</strong> the central takeaways is that decrim<strong>in</strong>alization<br />

advocates take accountability for their relationship<br />

with<strong>in</strong> these <strong>in</strong>stitutions.<br />

While harm reduction advocates have been keen to<br />

try to del<strong>in</strong>eate their advocacy from drug courts and<br />

mandatory treatment, argu<strong>in</strong>g that decrim<strong>in</strong>alization<br />

10 <strong>of</strong> 55

would take away leverage from coercive treatment <strong>in</strong>stitutions, community members<br />

identified a critique <strong>of</strong> social services beyond what decrim advocates have traditionally<br />

accounted for. <strong>The</strong>re is a shared notion among <strong>in</strong>terviewees that Black people <strong>in</strong> general,<br />

not just those <strong>in</strong> addiction treatment, are subjected to degrees <strong>of</strong> dehumanization that<br />

mean <strong>in</strong>stitutions, <strong>in</strong> general, do not honor their humanity or center their right to selfdeterm<strong>in</strong>ation.<br />

For many <strong>in</strong>terviewees, a world where philanthropic resources beg<strong>in</strong> to<br />

flow <strong>in</strong>to <strong>in</strong>stitutions tied to decrim<strong>in</strong>alization presents not an alternative to the past<br />

service ecosystem, but another vector <strong>in</strong> the commodification <strong>of</strong> Black suffer<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Moreover, the medical system itself also serves as a system <strong>of</strong> social control and anti-<br />

Blackness. With prom<strong>in</strong>ent public health <strong>in</strong>stitutions <strong>in</strong> Baltimore hav<strong>in</strong>g a legacy <strong>of</strong><br />

medical experimentation, gentrification, and currently support<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>creased polic<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong><br />

the city, many found there to be less <strong>of</strong> the dichotomy between polic<strong>in</strong>g and public<br />

health, but rather they existed as two sides <strong>of</strong> the same system <strong>of</strong> anti-Black violence<br />

(9,10). <strong>The</strong> primary donor <strong>of</strong> one <strong>of</strong> the nation's largest harm reduction funders, Michael<br />

Bloomberg, <strong>in</strong> addition to his historical support for policies like stop and frisk, has<br />

publicly supported <strong>in</strong>creased polic<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the very Baltimore neighborhoods<br />

decrim<strong>in</strong>alization is ostensibly serv<strong>in</strong>g through his support for an <strong>in</strong>dependent John<br />

Hopk<strong>in</strong>s Police Force (11). One <strong>of</strong> the region’s largest funders <strong>of</strong> harm reduction work,<br />

the Abell Foundation, has had a historically fraught relationship with some <strong>in</strong> Black civil<br />

society, perceived by some as play<strong>in</strong>g an unaccountable “gatekeep<strong>in</strong>g” role <strong>in</strong> the<br />

nonpr<strong>of</strong>it space, and has its own history <strong>of</strong> support<strong>in</strong>g efforts perceived by some as<br />

racialized medical experimentation, pay<strong>in</strong>g for Norplant contraceptive implants <strong>in</strong><br />

predom<strong>in</strong>antly Black teenage girls <strong>in</strong> the 1990s (12–14).<br />

Public health’s connection with the larger apparatus <strong>of</strong> anti-Blackness and this history <strong>in</strong><br />

the Baltimore community puts a spectator over attempts to ga<strong>in</strong> community support for<br />

the build-out <strong>of</strong> human social services associated with drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization, for, as one<br />

<strong>in</strong>terviewee put it:<br />

“How can we expect the same people who created the torture to fund our recovery.”<br />

Advocates <strong>of</strong> decrim<strong>in</strong>alization must grapple with the racist past (and<br />

present) <strong>of</strong> public health <strong>in</strong>stitutions <strong>in</strong> order to build the sort <strong>of</strong> coalition<br />

that can get support for a build-out <strong>of</strong> the genu<strong>in</strong>ely community-controlled<br />

and anti-racist treatment ecosystem needed <strong>in</strong> a post-decrim<strong>in</strong>alization<br />

world.<br />

11 <strong>of</strong> 55

Reparations Means Community Repair, not<br />

Reconciliation or Reform<br />

“In my work as a mental health provider, it was about<br />

reconnect<strong>in</strong>g to ancestral connection and veneration around<br />

who our people were. It was about po<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g out where<br />

Eurocentric or whitewashed or White supremacist ideals have<br />

been embedded with<strong>in</strong> us. For example, African-American folks<br />

not want<strong>in</strong>g to be Black, or seek<strong>in</strong>g to have proximity to<br />

whiteness. So, if we're th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g about this, how I might support<br />

a person that maybe is struggl<strong>in</strong>g with addiction or navigat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

systems, I would first def<strong>in</strong>e community from an African-<br />

Centered perspective that is not reliant on white ma<strong>in</strong>stream<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitutions and is not led by or ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g any level <strong>of</strong> power<br />

over them.<br />

…decrim<strong>in</strong>alization would be easier, if we had more voices <strong>of</strong><br />

folks that had some critical consciousness experience where<br />

they had the ability to see themselves <strong>in</strong> their own life, see it,<br />

alongside what's happen<strong>in</strong>g politically, and then beg<strong>in</strong> to<br />

advocate and be supported by funded community supported<br />

and advocated, so that they could be <strong>in</strong> the face <strong>of</strong>, and be<br />

supported collectively, and transform<strong>in</strong>g everyth<strong>in</strong>g that we<br />

th<strong>in</strong>k about when we th<strong>in</strong>k about why people use drugs. <strong>The</strong>y<br />

use drugs because they are try<strong>in</strong>g to connect to spirit or are <strong>in</strong><br />

deep, deep pa<strong>in</strong> and try<strong>in</strong>g to numb that pa<strong>in</strong>. How can we<br />

create a space where everyone feels like they don’t have to<br />

escape through a substance to heal their pa<strong>in</strong>?”<br />

Our research shows that the very def<strong>in</strong>ition <strong>of</strong> reparations needs<br />

to become a critical site <strong>of</strong> political contestation. Interviews did<br />

not predom<strong>in</strong>antly use a “racial equity and <strong>in</strong>clusion” frame,<br />

claim<strong>in</strong>g that successful decrim<strong>in</strong>alization would lead to equal<br />

access to exist<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>stitutions, but an <strong>in</strong>stitution build<strong>in</strong>g<br />

framework, which centered on the production <strong>of</strong> new,<br />

community-controlled <strong>in</strong>stitutions to meet essential needs.<br />

<strong>The</strong> def<strong>in</strong>ition <strong>of</strong> reparations presented by the <strong>in</strong>terview subjects<br />

did not center on repair<strong>in</strong>g the divide between oppressed and<br />

oppressor by grant<strong>in</strong>g the oppressed <strong>in</strong>creased access to exist<strong>in</strong>g<br />

political and social service <strong>in</strong>frastructure, but <strong>in</strong>stead on us<strong>in</strong>g<br />

public <strong>in</strong>vestment to build up the <strong>in</strong>frastructural capacity <strong>of</strong> the<br />

oppressed, so they were no longer dependent on the goodwill <strong>of</strong><br />

the oppressor for their survival.<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Drug</strong> Policy/Decrim<strong>in</strong>alization advocacy communities'<br />

<strong>in</strong>attention to the dynamic <strong>of</strong> self-determ<strong>in</strong>ation was not seen as<br />

unique to harm reduction or decrim<strong>in</strong>alization advocat<strong>in</strong>g, but<br />

an extension <strong>of</strong> the larger society paradigm <strong>of</strong> denigration <strong>of</strong><br />

Black communities' capacity for self-governance, as one<br />

<strong>in</strong>terviewee noted:<br />

12 <strong>of</strong> 55

“Systems <strong>of</strong> White supremacy and anti-Blackness don't<br />

allow the thought that Black people can be the architects<br />

<strong>of</strong> their own solutions.”<br />

This report endeavored to create a space where people<br />

could imag<strong>in</strong>e the solutions to the harm <strong>of</strong> drug<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>alization they would produce if they were given<br />

license to build the <strong>in</strong>stitutions themselves. What they<br />

presented are solutions which extend beyond keep<strong>in</strong>g those<br />

suffer<strong>in</strong>g from substance use disorder alive, and toward<br />

build<strong>in</strong>g systems <strong>of</strong> human flourish<strong>in</strong>g that made engag<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>in</strong> the community more attractive than “dropp<strong>in</strong>g out” <strong>of</strong><br />

community life through chaotic addiction. Indeed, the<br />

promotion <strong>of</strong> robust community <strong>in</strong>stitutions was framed<br />

constantly as core to an addiction prevention system, a<br />

rearrangement <strong>of</strong> a political and economic order that was<br />

seen as a “best practice” to address the root causes <strong>of</strong><br />

addiction. This analysis is not only consistent with the work<br />

<strong>of</strong> Bruce Alexander and his “dislocation hypothesis” <strong>of</strong><br />

addiction but the work <strong>of</strong> various scholars and organic<br />

<strong>in</strong>tellectuals <strong>of</strong> the Black Radical Tradition (15, 16).<br />

For decrim<strong>in</strong>alization to flourish, we must listen to what<br />

communities most impacted by the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s are<br />

actually demand<strong>in</strong>g. A polluted drug supply and historic<br />

disruption from a global pandemic mean many recognize<br />

the need for drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization and overdose<br />

prevention to survive, but these communities are<br />

fundamentally <strong>in</strong>terested <strong>in</strong> the forms <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>vestment and<br />

self-determ<strong>in</strong>ation where they can not merely survive, but<br />

thrive.<br />

<strong>The</strong> overdose epidemic is no doubt an issue <strong>of</strong> prime<br />

importance, but drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization can address this<br />

issue either by co-opt<strong>in</strong>g the righteous <strong>in</strong>dignation <strong>of</strong><br />

communities impacted by systemic racism <strong>in</strong>to more<br />

disappo<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g and dangerous reformism or embrac<strong>in</strong>g<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g led by the community <strong>in</strong> a coalition that seeks to use<br />

decrim<strong>in</strong>alization as a catalyst to expand community<br />

capacity for self-governance.<br />

It is our hope that this research does its part to start a<br />

conversation that makes the latter more possible.<br />

13 <strong>of</strong> 55

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Communal</strong> <strong>Impacts</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Drug</strong> <strong>Crim<strong>in</strong>alization</strong> <strong>in</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong><br />

Introduction<br />

As a new wave <strong>of</strong> drug policy reform <strong>in</strong> the U.S. reconsiders crim<strong>in</strong>al legal approaches, we must exam<strong>in</strong>e<br />

these policies <strong>in</strong> the context <strong>of</strong> racialized structural oppression to address and repair the societal harms<br />

experienced disproportionately by African-American communities. To understand the harms <strong>of</strong> drug<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>in</strong> this context, a partnership was forged with the support <strong>of</strong> the Open Society<br />

Foundations between a Baltimore-based, community-based scholar and a team <strong>of</strong> university-based<br />

researchers <strong>in</strong> the fields <strong>of</strong> social work, crim<strong>in</strong>ology, and public health. <strong>The</strong> research team was asked to<br />

research the harms <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization to make a case for decrim<strong>in</strong>aliz<strong>in</strong>g the personal use <strong>of</strong> drugs.<br />

Through consultation with the community-based scholars, the team agreed to go beyond an analysis <strong>of</strong><br />

the harms <strong>of</strong> crim<strong>in</strong>alization that focuses on <strong>in</strong>dividual <strong>in</strong>stances <strong>of</strong> arrests and <strong>in</strong>carceration and "waste"<br />

<strong>of</strong> f<strong>in</strong>ancial resources.<br />

A research process was created to reframe the harms <strong>of</strong> crim<strong>in</strong>alization around the community impacts <strong>of</strong><br />

racialized hyper-<strong>in</strong>carceration targeted at specific communities, with a focus on refram<strong>in</strong>g<br />

decrim<strong>in</strong>alization as a mechanism to restore the civil communal fabric impacted by the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s.<br />

<strong>The</strong> community-based scholar used African-Centered research paradigms, <strong>in</strong>clusive <strong>of</strong> various research<br />

methodologies guided by the culture and experiences <strong>of</strong> people <strong>of</strong> African descent. African-Centered<br />

research paradigms challenge us to account for the community-wide implications <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization<br />

and towards reparations when th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g about decrim<strong>in</strong>alization strategies. To shift power to communities<br />

seek<strong>in</strong>g self-determ<strong>in</strong>ation and liberation from the structural oppression <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization, the<br />

research team applied a participatory action research (also known as PAR) approach. PAR merges social<br />

change activities with knowledge <strong>in</strong>quiry guided by those most impacted by the research. Shift<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>in</strong>tellectual guidance away from academic <strong>in</strong>stitutions that conventionally hold power over solutions, the<br />

community-based scholar drove the research framework that <strong>in</strong>formed the objectives, structure,<br />

methodologies, and content <strong>of</strong> the report.<br />

<strong>The</strong> first objective <strong>of</strong> this report was to conduct a precise analysis <strong>of</strong> community disruption via the<br />

systems <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization to <strong>in</strong>form the second objective <strong>of</strong> highlight<strong>in</strong>g drug policy focus areas for<br />

solutions and repair <strong>of</strong> the community harms. <strong>The</strong> team first conducted a scop<strong>in</strong>g review <strong>of</strong> academic<br />

literature <strong>in</strong> the U.S. to critically assess the role <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization on the social conditions <strong>of</strong><br />

communities most <strong>of</strong>ten targeted by drug prohibition efforts. We found that exist<strong>in</strong>g academic literature<br />

frames the harms <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization on disrupt<strong>in</strong>g social capital <strong>of</strong> the communal <strong>in</strong>stitution <strong>of</strong><br />

families. It also emphasized the need to strengthen access to exist<strong>in</strong>g external systems <strong>of</strong> support, like<br />

drug treatment and job placements spatially and culturally outside <strong>of</strong> communities. <strong>The</strong>re is little research<br />

on how crim<strong>in</strong>alization impacts <strong>in</strong>dividuals' ability to access or engage <strong>in</strong>digenous community<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitutions. <strong>The</strong> paucity <strong>of</strong> research sheds light on the need to center knowledge production on collective<br />

harms <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization. Research <strong>in</strong>form<strong>in</strong>g drug policy is miss<strong>in</strong>g critical perspectives and rarely<br />

<strong>in</strong>cludes perspectives from impacted communities, lead<strong>in</strong>g us to conduct qualitative <strong>in</strong>terviews with<br />

community leaders <strong>in</strong> Baltimore.<br />

<strong>The</strong> research team <strong>in</strong>terviewed 12 Baltimore region-based key experts who identified as community<br />

organizers, youth mentors, grassroots or academic educators, mental health and social work<br />

pr<strong>of</strong>essionals, harm reduction organizers, and holistic addiction providers. All <strong>in</strong>terviewees provided firsthand<br />

knowledge and experiences <strong>of</strong> structural and historical realities <strong>of</strong> drug use, crim<strong>in</strong>alization, and the<br />

drug treatment <strong>in</strong>frastructure <strong>in</strong> Baltimore. <strong>The</strong>y also <strong>of</strong>fered visions <strong>of</strong> a world without drug<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>alization and recommendations for state and local policies. F<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>gs demonstrate the importance<br />

<strong>of</strong> collective well-be<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> address<strong>in</strong>g substance use disorders (SUDs) and undergird the case for<br />

reparations that allow communities most impacted by the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s to rebuild, heal, and thrive while<br />

hav<strong>in</strong>g local control over alternatives to crim<strong>in</strong>alization.<br />

This report outl<strong>in</strong>es community harm rooted <strong>in</strong> the racialized structural violence <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization<br />

<strong>in</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong> with a focus on Baltimore City to provide advocates with tools to <strong>in</strong>form their efforts <strong>in</strong><br />

advanc<strong>in</strong>g policy change <strong>in</strong> the state. It is our hope that this analysis will prompt policy advocates <strong>in</strong> and<br />

out <strong>of</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong> to question and challenge assumptions regard<strong>in</strong>g drug policy solutions. Understand<strong>in</strong>g<br />

14 <strong>of</strong> 55

the role <strong>of</strong> crim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>in</strong> disrupt<strong>in</strong>g the social fabric <strong>of</strong> communities is essential to assess how anti-<br />

Black systems <strong>of</strong> crim<strong>in</strong>al legal control function <strong>in</strong> the reproduction <strong>of</strong> racial oppression and how new<br />

visions <strong>of</strong> drug policies ameliorate or exacerbate the negative impacts <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization on<br />

communities.<br />

<strong>The</strong> State <strong>of</strong> Decrim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>in</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong><br />

At the state level, <strong>of</strong>ficially sanctioned (de jure) decrim<strong>in</strong>alization legislation was <strong>in</strong>troduced <strong>in</strong> the last<br />

few years. <strong>The</strong>se bills outl<strong>in</strong>e legal thresholds <strong>of</strong> possession <strong>of</strong> particular illicit drugs for personal use and<br />

the removal <strong>of</strong> crim<strong>in</strong>al sanctions around possession <strong>of</strong> drug paraphernalia. Conversations circled among<br />

local political leaders <strong>in</strong> both state legislative chambers; however, the bills did not result <strong>in</strong> a vote.<br />

At the city level and at the onset <strong>of</strong> the COVID-19 pandemic, Baltimore State’s Attorney’s <strong>of</strong>fice decided<br />

not to prosecute crimes <strong>of</strong> poverty, such as drug possession, implement<strong>in</strong>g an un<strong>of</strong>ficial (de facto)<br />

decrim<strong>in</strong>alization policy (17). A year after, local public health researchers evaluated the policy change and<br />

found a reduction <strong>in</strong> drug-related arrests (18). <strong>The</strong> authors endorsed the uptake <strong>of</strong> decrim practices as<br />

means to divert people who use drugs away from crim<strong>in</strong>al legal system and <strong>in</strong>to public health and social<br />

services with the goal to reduce the harms associated with drug use, such as overdose (19). <strong>The</strong>se efforts<br />

are currently up for repeal with newly elected leadership.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re are real fears that decrim<strong>in</strong>alization strategies could reflect anti-Black sentiment and even risk<br />

expand<strong>in</strong>g anti-Black social control and violence. Baltimore has a long history <strong>of</strong> racialized law<br />

enforcement and an authoritarian, regulatory, and punitive relationship cont<strong>in</strong>ues to exist between Black<br />

Americans and the police (20). <strong>The</strong> community-based scholar, Director <strong>of</strong> Research for Leaders <strong>of</strong> a<br />

Beautiful Struggle Lawrence Grandpre, notes that there are challenges <strong>in</strong> the political landscape for<br />

pass<strong>in</strong>g drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization and other harm reduction efforts <strong>in</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong>. Civil rights leaders<br />

expressed concern around safe consumption kits be<strong>in</strong>g sent to their constituents, fear<strong>in</strong>g that they could<br />

serve as relapse triggers for those <strong>in</strong> recovery. He also heard fears about crime and drug use runn<strong>in</strong>g<br />

rampant <strong>in</strong> a post-legalization Baltimore. Furthermore, the Legislative Black Caucus <strong>of</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong>, Inc.<br />

(LBCM) rema<strong>in</strong>ed reticent <strong>in</strong> the decrim conversations, <strong>of</strong> which a substantial percentage <strong>of</strong> members<br />

come from Baltimore City and Baltimore County. Legislators outside the city have also described<br />

Baltimore as a black hole to express their frustrations about what they view as an over-<strong>in</strong>vestment <strong>of</strong><br />

f<strong>in</strong>ancial resources by the state (21). For there to be any political advancement <strong>of</strong> decrim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>in</strong><br />

<strong>Maryland</strong>, it is essential to expla<strong>in</strong> how systems <strong>of</strong> White supremacy impact the <strong>in</strong>equities <strong>in</strong> Baltimore<br />

that then create a need for higher levels <strong>of</strong> state <strong>in</strong>vestment and to present ways that decrim<strong>in</strong>alization<br />

policy can both address addiction and crime as well as create social justice <strong>in</strong> Baltimore. This report<br />

beg<strong>in</strong>s to raise these concerns and provide drug policy advocates with the language and tools necessary for<br />

understand<strong>in</strong>g the unique racialized impacts <strong>of</strong> drug policies.<br />

<strong>The</strong>oretical Framework:<br />

Participatory Action Research and<br />

African-Centered Research Paradigms<br />

<strong>The</strong> analysis laid out <strong>in</strong> the report was created <strong>in</strong> partnership between a community-based scholar,<br />

Baltimore-based <strong>in</strong>terviewees, and university-based researchers to understand the collective harms <strong>of</strong><br />

drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>in</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong> and how to address these harms. <strong>The</strong> research team applied PAR<br />

approach which merges social change activities with knowledge <strong>in</strong>quiry and development (22).<br />

Despite a commitment to community, many forms <strong>of</strong> participatory research are led by university-based<br />

researchers and the research process is carried out by communities that are be<strong>in</strong>g studied. This hierarchal<br />

mode <strong>of</strong> knowledge production ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong>s power structures that impede goals <strong>of</strong> liberation from structural<br />

oppression. For this research project, the community-based scholar drove the research framework, giv<strong>in</strong>g<br />

rise to the research questions and hypotheses that <strong>in</strong>formed the structure and content <strong>of</strong> the report. <strong>The</strong><br />

community-based scholar also advised on and supported the methodological design, data collection and<br />

analysis for the scop<strong>in</strong>g review and the qualitative <strong>in</strong>terviews that were implemented by the universitybased<br />

researchers.<br />

15 <strong>of</strong> 55

<strong>The</strong> community-based scholar is <strong>in</strong>formed by African-Centered research paradigms (ACRPs), a term used<br />

to describe different research methodologies guided by the culture, knowledge production practices, and<br />

experiences <strong>of</strong> people <strong>of</strong> African descent (23). Na’im Akbar describes what he calls the African-American<br />

research paradigm (AARP) as one “which facilitates the best <strong>of</strong> development for all human be<strong>in</strong>gs (3). It<br />

must be a ‘natural’ or generally human paradigm rather than the narrow ethnocentric paradigm that<br />

describes a particular group <strong>of</strong> humans (3).” Akbar outl<strong>in</strong>es four most relevant types <strong>of</strong> research that<br />

makes up ACRPs as: (1) theoretical, (2) critique <strong>of</strong> falsification (deconstruction), (3) ethnographic, and (4)<br />

heuristic (construction or reconstruction). He expla<strong>in</strong>s them as follows:<br />

“<strong>The</strong>oretical research is for the purpose <strong>of</strong> generat<strong>in</strong>g questions. <strong>The</strong>ory development grows<br />

from self-reflective observation and the <strong>in</strong>trospective analysis <strong>of</strong> one’s (collective) experiences.<br />

No data beyond one’s subjective and affective appraisal <strong>of</strong> the observer's experience are<br />

necessary. This is not unlike the procedure for the ground-break<strong>in</strong>g and paradigm-sett<strong>in</strong>g work<br />

<strong>of</strong> Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, William James, B.F. Sk<strong>in</strong>ner and the vast array <strong>of</strong> lum<strong>in</strong>aries <strong>in</strong><br />

all fields <strong>of</strong> social science research who never produced a control group while lay<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

cornerstone for Western thought.“<br />

Curtis Banks has identified "deconstructive" or falsification research as another type <strong>of</strong> research. Such<br />

research is concerned with an analysis <strong>of</strong> the construct validity <strong>of</strong> traditional research. <strong>The</strong> falsification<br />

researcher is concerned with demonstrat<strong>in</strong>g the fallacy <strong>of</strong> the <strong>in</strong>ferences and the methodological<br />

distortions <strong>of</strong> that traditional research. Falsification research <strong>in</strong>volves both theoretical dismantl<strong>in</strong>g as well<br />

as empirical rebuttal.<br />

Ethnographic research is probably the only authentic form <strong>of</strong> empirical research that is appropriate for<br />

this po<strong>in</strong>t <strong>in</strong> our scientific method development. This approach permits the researcher, hav<strong>in</strong>g passed the<br />

“Relationship Index,” to observe Black people where they are and to try fulfill<strong>in</strong>g the criteria <strong>of</strong> a worker<br />

with<strong>in</strong> the African paradigm who can beg<strong>in</strong> to identify those characteristics <strong>of</strong> Black people that are most<br />

fruitful <strong>in</strong> the light <strong>of</strong> our research model. Rather than catalog<strong>in</strong>g the deficiencies <strong>of</strong> Black<br />

people, the ethnographic researcher can identify those strengths and self-affirmative<br />

patterns that have facilitated our growth.<br />

F<strong>in</strong>ally, heuristic research <strong>of</strong>fers the bridge to our discussion <strong>of</strong> modalities. This research follows from the<br />

ethnographic research <strong>in</strong> that it beg<strong>in</strong>s to articulate culturally adaptive styles and beg<strong>in</strong>s to demonstrate<br />

the benefits, which come from adapt<strong>in</strong>g that style. <strong>The</strong> objective <strong>of</strong> this research is to fortify those<br />

structures that have been demonstrated to be beneficial to the survival and advancement<br />

<strong>of</strong> Black people. If tests are to be used, what k<strong>in</strong>ds <strong>of</strong> tests would be most appropriate <strong>in</strong><br />

identify<strong>in</strong>g those qualities that have emerged as valuable and effective for survival from the<br />

ethnographic research.”<br />

<strong>The</strong>se four methodologies comb<strong>in</strong>e to produce ACRP research for communal benefit. ACRPs add to<br />

exist<strong>in</strong>g research by <strong>in</strong>corporat<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong>ten overlooked factors (23). In this report, an ACRP is used to<br />

analyze drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>in</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong> us<strong>in</strong>g Baltimore as a central case study with an<br />

understand<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> how anti-Black systems have functioned <strong>in</strong> the reproduction <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>equality and violence.<br />

<strong>The</strong> goal is not to avoid wield<strong>in</strong>g power, but <strong>in</strong>stead, explicitly build power for oppressed people.<br />

Community Harms <strong>of</strong> <strong>Drug</strong> <strong>Crim<strong>in</strong>alization</strong><br />

<strong>The</strong> harms <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization that impacts the foundation <strong>of</strong> community, the community’s social,<br />

economic, and cultural environment, are largely overlooked from the drug policy conversation (24). One<br />

hypothesis <strong>in</strong> the social science field, the dislocation <strong>of</strong> addiction, theorizes that the root <strong>of</strong> addiction is<br />

conditioned on the “dislocation” <strong>of</strong> people from their social and cultural aspects <strong>of</strong> life (25). <strong>The</strong><br />

hypothesis expla<strong>in</strong>s that the larger social disruption <strong>of</strong> communities is tied to a globalized free-market<br />

society that embodies an <strong>in</strong>dividual ethos. This analysis also mirrors African-Centered research theories<br />

<strong>of</strong> addiction that have processed the spiritual and cultural dislocation <strong>of</strong> Black civil life as central to the<br />

African-American communities’ struggle with addiction (26). Major moments <strong>in</strong> history that have def<strong>in</strong>ed<br />

social dislocation <strong>in</strong> Black and African-American communities <strong>in</strong>clude the Middle Passage and the Great<br />

Migration (27).<br />

16 <strong>of</strong> 55

Crim<strong>in</strong>ological and social theories have expla<strong>in</strong>ed how the epidemic <strong>of</strong> mass <strong>in</strong>carceration, largely fueled<br />

by the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s, has also played a central role <strong>in</strong> social disruption (6, 15, 28). Crim<strong>in</strong>ologist Todd<br />

Clear, <strong>in</strong> his book, Imprison<strong>in</strong>g Communities, argues that the disruption <strong>of</strong> social networks via statesponsored<br />

social control has largely prevented over-<strong>in</strong>carcerated communities’ the ability to harness<br />

community support and <strong>in</strong>formal community control. His research <strong>in</strong> Baltimore found that prison cycl<strong>in</strong>g<br />

largely due to drug-related <strong>of</strong>fenses not only failed to control crime, but it also weakened social networks<br />

with<strong>in</strong> a community, manifest<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> broader <strong>in</strong>stability <strong>of</strong> social <strong>in</strong>stitutions, economic development, and<br />

hous<strong>in</strong>g markets. Clear hypothesized the concept <strong>of</strong> “coercive mobility,” the social disruption and human<br />

displacement caused, replaced, and re<strong>in</strong>forced by the formal sources <strong>of</strong> state-sponsored social control: the<br />

legal, non-pr<strong>of</strong>it, and social service systems (29).<br />

Although Clear’s work addresses the impact <strong>of</strong> crim<strong>in</strong>alization on community <strong>in</strong>stitutions, the role <strong>of</strong> drug<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>alization on coercive mobility is rarely considered on addiction and <strong>in</strong> drug policy discourse. More<br />

importantly, there is a lack <strong>of</strong> analysis on how to repair the civil <strong>in</strong>stitutional fabric necessary to create<br />

functional community through the frame <strong>of</strong> ACRPs that consider explicit anti-Black violence, attacks to<br />

Black community attempts at self-governance and community control, the nonpr<strong>of</strong>it <strong>in</strong>dustrial complex,<br />

and other essential concepts referred to <strong>in</strong> this report. When envision<strong>in</strong>g policy to create a postcrim<strong>in</strong>alization<br />

world, we must understand the root causes <strong>of</strong> addiction that are <strong>in</strong>tegral to the community<br />

harms that are largely understudied. <strong>The</strong> social, crim<strong>in</strong>ological, and ACRP theoretical fram<strong>in</strong>gs lay a<br />

foundation to understand community harms <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>in</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong>. We raise the questions<br />

<strong>of</strong> what causes the social disruption that <strong>in</strong>fluences addiction, how do we def<strong>in</strong>e and measure it, and what<br />

policy responses are needed to restore community, specifically <strong>in</strong> the context <strong>of</strong> Baltimore, <strong>Maryland</strong>.<br />

A Spotlight on Baltimore<br />

This report is specific to the Baltimore context, outl<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g the history <strong>of</strong> Baltimore with<strong>in</strong> broader U.S.<br />

history <strong>in</strong> order to contextualize the collective harms <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization. <strong>The</strong> focus on Baltimore is<br />

also prom<strong>in</strong>ent as this report is <strong>in</strong>formed by a community-based scholar work<strong>in</strong>g to advance the public<br />

policy <strong>in</strong>terests <strong>of</strong> Black people, <strong>in</strong> Baltimore (30).<br />

No city <strong>in</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong> is impacted by mass <strong>in</strong>carceration as much as Baltimore City, the largest city <strong>in</strong> the<br />

state. Although home to 9% <strong>of</strong> the state's residents, 40% <strong>of</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong>’s <strong>in</strong>carcerated population are from<br />

Baltimore (31). Also, <strong>in</strong> Baltimore City, drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization disproportionately impacts African-American<br />

populations. In 2016, the United States Department <strong>of</strong> Justice <strong>in</strong>vestigated the Baltimore Police<br />

Department (BPD) and found that despite decl<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g rates <strong>of</strong> African-American drug use across the city, 89<br />

percent <strong>of</strong> those 100,000 people charged for drug possession were African-Americans (32). While survey<br />

data shows that African-Americans use drugs at rates similar to other population groups, Baltimore Police<br />

Department arrests African-Americans for drug possession at five times the rate <strong>of</strong> others. Compared to<br />

similarities <strong>in</strong> rates <strong>of</strong> drug use across other similar African-American majority cities <strong>in</strong> America<br />

(Cleveland, Milwaukee, Detroit, Atlanta), Baltimore drug arrests <strong>of</strong> African-Americans were between 200<br />

and 500 percent higher (32).<br />

<strong>The</strong> crim<strong>in</strong>al legal environment is a product <strong>of</strong> the racialized structural oppression that has characterized<br />

the landscape <strong>of</strong> the Black experience for generations. Baltimore is the first city <strong>in</strong> America to establish<br />

block-by-block racial segregation, a policy that was followed by aggressive redl<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g, a contract system for<br />

hous<strong>in</strong>g loans, and racially targeted subprime loans. Unemployment, low wages, poor hous<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

<strong>in</strong>adequate education, and other forms <strong>of</strong> racial discrim<strong>in</strong>ation cont<strong>in</strong>ue to persist. While the city hosts<br />

wealthy <strong>in</strong>stitutions and bus<strong>in</strong>esses, large portions <strong>of</strong> Baltimore’s African-American population struggle<br />

economically. Most relevant is the social and economic landscape that has shaped the overdose epidemic.<br />

Baltimore City bears the greatest burden <strong>of</strong> opioid-related overdose deaths <strong>in</strong> the state. In 2020, 40<br />

percent <strong>of</strong> overdose deaths occurred <strong>in</strong> Baltimore alone. Despite recent efforts to decrim<strong>in</strong>alize marijuana<br />

and harsher forms <strong>of</strong> drugs, overdose rates cont<strong>in</strong>ue to rise, and ris<strong>in</strong>g greatest among African-Americans<br />

(33).<br />

17 <strong>of</strong> 55

Def<strong>in</strong>itions<br />

Black Civil Society<br />

This report addresses critical bl<strong>in</strong>d spots with<strong>in</strong> academic literature that looks beyond the public health<br />

fram<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>dividual-level harms and evaluates the social disruption <strong>of</strong> communal <strong>in</strong>stitutions, referred<br />

to <strong>in</strong> this report through the concept <strong>of</strong> Black civil society.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Oxford Dictionary <strong>of</strong> Politics def<strong>in</strong>es civil society as the set <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>termediate associations which are<br />

neither the state nor the (extended) family; civil society therefore <strong>in</strong>cludes voluntary associations, firms,<br />

and other corporate bodies (34). With<strong>in</strong> the context <strong>of</strong> this report, Black civil society should be seen as the<br />

<strong>in</strong>terrelationship between <strong>in</strong>stitutions largely occupied by, serv<strong>in</strong>g, and/or controlled by Black people to<br />

meet essential community needs and fulfill community desires. Analysis <strong>of</strong> Black <strong>in</strong>stitutions, <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g<br />

mutual aid societies, shows Black civic organizations serv<strong>in</strong>g critical roles, meet<strong>in</strong>g essential community<br />

needs rang<strong>in</strong>g from health care, burial costs, and f<strong>in</strong>ancial sav<strong>in</strong>gs (35). As def<strong>in</strong>ed by Marion Orr <strong>in</strong> the<br />

book, Black Social Capital: <strong>The</strong> Politics <strong>of</strong> School Reform <strong>in</strong> Baltimore, Black civil society undergirds the<br />

organizational <strong>in</strong>frastructure to advance Black <strong>in</strong>terests and serves as “agents <strong>of</strong> social reform on issues <strong>of</strong><br />

economic empowerment, spiritual development, and social and political equality (12).” Akbar notes how<br />

ACRP research f<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>gs should be used for “the process <strong>of</strong> liberation and <strong>in</strong>stitution build<strong>in</strong>g for a<br />

historically oppressed people (3).”<br />

As we identify the adaptive strategies and characteristics for our advancement from our research<br />

methods, those strategies must serve as the guidel<strong>in</strong>es for structur<strong>in</strong>g our <strong>in</strong>stitutions. Educational<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitutions must <strong>of</strong>fer content that advances self-knowledge as well as <strong>of</strong>fer<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>struction through the<br />

demonstrated modalities that build on our strengths. Economic <strong>in</strong>stitutions must be built that address<br />

our critical survival needs while be<strong>in</strong>g consistent with our model <strong>of</strong> humanity and community. Our<br />

religious <strong>in</strong>stitutions must be critiqued and developed along l<strong>in</strong>es that foster our spirituality and enhance<br />

our collective development. All <strong>of</strong> these modalities provide the ultimate objective <strong>of</strong> augment<strong>in</strong>g and<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitutionaliz<strong>in</strong>g the African-American paradigm rooted <strong>in</strong> nature and respect for humank<strong>in</strong>d.<br />

This report focuses on formal and <strong>in</strong>formal Black civil society <strong>in</strong>stitutions related to addiction prevention<br />

and communal care. Examples <strong>of</strong> formal <strong>in</strong>stitutions <strong>in</strong>clude Black churches, Black-led community<br />

nonpr<strong>of</strong>its, historical Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), the Black Panthers and <strong>in</strong> Baltimore<br />

specifically, the Goon Squad, and Baltimoreans United <strong>in</strong> Leadership Development (BUILD) (36). While<br />

more <strong>in</strong>formal <strong>in</strong>stitutions <strong>in</strong>clude street organizations (<strong>of</strong>ten called "gangs"), networks <strong>of</strong> "grey market"<br />

18 <strong>of</strong> 55

entrepreneurship, and <strong>in</strong>dividual people, who with<strong>in</strong> the context <strong>of</strong> this lens are seen as pillars <strong>of</strong> the<br />

community and therefore critical parts <strong>of</strong> Black civil society. Our historical analysis reveals more players<br />

with<strong>in</strong> Black civil society <strong>in</strong> Baltimore, which is expanded upon by our <strong>in</strong>terviewees later <strong>in</strong> this report.<br />

Def<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g Reparations from African-Centered Research Paradigms<br />

African-Centered and Black nationalist scholars argue that Black communities have consistently produced<br />

social and political systems to meet their collective needs as demonstrated by pre-colonial African society,<br />

maroon societies throughout the Americas, and <strong>in</strong>dependent post-reconstruction Black communities (37).<br />

However, the capacity <strong>of</strong> these communal systems has been denigrated by racist attacks rang<strong>in</strong>g from the<br />

transatlantic slave trade, chattel slavery, reconstruction resistance, Jim Crow, and more contemporarily,<br />

the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s (15). From the perspective <strong>of</strong> our <strong>in</strong>terviewees and the community scholar guid<strong>in</strong>g this<br />

research process, reparations should be seen as a key tool <strong>in</strong> rebuild<strong>in</strong>g the <strong>in</strong>stitutional capacity <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong>digenous Black civil society that existed before the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s through reparative redistribution <strong>of</strong><br />

power and resources. Interviewees described visions <strong>of</strong> communities where people thrive and have the<br />

power to def<strong>in</strong>e for themselves what thriv<strong>in</strong>g looks like.<br />

This report challenges a traditional def<strong>in</strong>ition <strong>of</strong> reparations, which are <strong>of</strong>ten def<strong>in</strong>ed by government<br />

entities. For example, the United Nations def<strong>in</strong>es reparations with a focus on compensation and<br />

rehabilitation (United Nations Human Rights). Many have made the case for reparations that go beyond<br />

<strong>in</strong>dividual payments and look to address collective harms based on slavery and post-slavery history <strong>in</strong> the<br />

U.S. (37,38). In this report, we def<strong>in</strong>e reparations through the lens <strong>of</strong> ACRPs, which centers on<br />

repair <strong>of</strong> community harm. This should not require repressed communities to depend on their<br />

oppressors, but <strong>in</strong>stead repressed communities should have the fund<strong>in</strong>g, <strong>in</strong>digenous <strong>in</strong>stitutional<br />

capacity, and autonomy to be able to construct for themselves their own solutions (23).<br />

Scop<strong>in</strong>g Review<br />

First a scop<strong>in</strong>g review <strong>of</strong> peer-reviewed literature was conducted to exam<strong>in</strong>e the extent, range, and nature<br />

<strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization and the social conditions <strong>of</strong> communities most <strong>of</strong>ten targeted by drug <strong>in</strong>terdiction<br />

efforts <strong>in</strong> the United States, Black/African communities and people who use drugs. A scop<strong>in</strong>g review is<br />

used for summariz<strong>in</strong>g understudied research, address<strong>in</strong>g multiple questions that give rise to the<br />

complexity <strong>of</strong> a topic area, reveal gaps and limitations (39). Given our theoretical and empirical<br />

understand<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the social disruption related to drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization among Black communities <strong>in</strong><br />

<strong>Maryland</strong> and the lack <strong>of</strong> attention to Black civil society <strong>in</strong> traditional academic literature, we used the<br />

concept <strong>of</strong> social capital as a basel<strong>in</strong>e to frame how the literature describes the community-level<br />

implications <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization. Additionally, the community-based scholar was <strong>in</strong>formed by Black<br />

elders who work on community economic development and have used social capital <strong>in</strong> their work to<br />

analyze how policy might be rethought to center Black civil society <strong>in</strong>stitutions which produce productive<br />

<strong>in</strong>terconnections with<strong>in</strong> the Black community (40).<br />

Given our goal to assess the implications <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization on community, factors such as social<br />

capital and p<strong>in</strong>po<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g the social harms justified for repair, we conducted a scop<strong>in</strong>g review and analyzed<br />

the literature us<strong>in</strong>g Putnam’s social capital theory which del<strong>in</strong>eates social capital, <strong>in</strong>digenous and external<br />

to the community (41). Social capital is an important collective feature <strong>of</strong> social and economic well-be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

(42). It serves as a form <strong>of</strong> community agency to share and exchange resources, support, and material<br />

goods through personal and <strong>in</strong>stitutional assets <strong>of</strong> cooperation. For example, we evaluated the role <strong>of</strong><br />

social <strong>in</strong>stitutions between members <strong>of</strong> similar and different social and economic identities among<br />

communities most <strong>of</strong>ten targeted by drug <strong>in</strong>terdiction. A classical def<strong>in</strong>ition <strong>of</strong> Black social capital refers<br />

to <strong>in</strong>terpersonal and <strong>in</strong>stitutional forms <strong>of</strong> cooperation with<strong>in</strong> African-American communities, while<br />

social capital harnessed outside the community describes cross-sector patterns <strong>of</strong> trust and networks that<br />

bridge the Black and White divide (12).<br />

Community <strong>in</strong>tegrity determ<strong>in</strong>es quality <strong>of</strong> life and mediates access to local networks <strong>of</strong> organizations and<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitutions; therefore, the review considers non-pr<strong>of</strong>its, Black civil society <strong>in</strong>stitutions, schools, and<br />

health care facilities, etc, both locally and externally controlled (43). <strong>The</strong> scop<strong>in</strong>g review also exam<strong>in</strong>ed<br />

the body <strong>of</strong> literature on the structural and environmental <strong>in</strong>fluences on these social relationships and<br />

evaluated the extent <strong>of</strong> race consciousness (i.e., if structural racism is acknowledged) <strong>in</strong> the published<br />

19 <strong>of</strong> 55

works. Specifically, we looked at how literature <strong>in</strong>corporates the role <strong>of</strong> Black civil society <strong>in</strong>stitutions <strong>in</strong><br />

social capital research.<br />

We used Arksey and O’Malley’s (2005) five-stage scop<strong>in</strong>g review framework (44), with report<strong>in</strong>g guided<br />

by the PRISMA extension for scop<strong>in</strong>g reviews checklist and explanation (PRISMA-SCr): (1) research<br />

question development, (2) literature search, (3) study selection, (4) data chart<strong>in</strong>g and extraction, and (5)<br />

data analysis and narrative synthesis. For full description <strong>of</strong> the methods, see appendix.<br />

Scop<strong>in</strong>g Review F<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

Research that exam<strong>in</strong>es the impact <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization on the social <strong>in</strong>frastructure and civic<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitutional fabric <strong>of</strong> communities faced with high levels <strong>of</strong> drug addiction and crim<strong>in</strong>alization is<br />

m<strong>in</strong>imal. A few papers outl<strong>in</strong>ed the role <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization on community-level aspects. Out <strong>of</strong> 46<br />

articles related to social capital and drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization, 23 described social capital relationships local to<br />

the community, 11 described social capital externally l<strong>in</strong>ked to communities, and 12 described both<br />

<strong>in</strong>ternal and external relationships <strong>of</strong> social capital. Five studies <strong>in</strong>corporated participatory or<br />

community-<strong>in</strong>formed methods.<br />

In the review <strong>of</strong> social capital relationships, there was an emphasis on the disruption <strong>of</strong> family<br />

relationships and m<strong>in</strong>imal research on the impact <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization on the community environment<br />

(45–52). <strong>The</strong>re was little research on the relationship between drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization and the social erosion<br />

<strong>of</strong> community sources <strong>of</strong> support, like faith-based organizations, and more research on sources <strong>of</strong> support<br />

that operated outside <strong>of</strong> community control, such as government and non-pr<strong>of</strong>it drug treatments (53–62).<br />

This focus was on social capital by def<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g it <strong>in</strong> terms <strong>of</strong> the relationship with community members who<br />

use drugs with treatment-provid<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>stitutions. <strong>The</strong> research <strong>of</strong>ten framed sources <strong>of</strong> support external to<br />

impacted communities as vehicles for success, rather than on study<strong>in</strong>g how structural racism and other<br />

modes <strong>of</strong> oppression destabilizes communal conditions and <strong>in</strong>digenous forms <strong>of</strong> social capital. Although<br />

research and practice seek to address the material suffer<strong>in</strong>g caused by hyper-<strong>in</strong>carceration and addiction,<br />

20 <strong>of</strong> 55

the body <strong>of</strong> literature fails to challenge the underly<strong>in</strong>g assumptions beh<strong>in</strong>d the systems <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>equity and<br />

overlooks the productive capabilities <strong>of</strong> communities that are implicated <strong>in</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization. For<br />

example, few papers highlighted the economic empowerment result<strong>in</strong>g from access<strong>in</strong>g illicit forms <strong>of</strong><br />

social capital among those who use and sell drugs, as a means <strong>of</strong> survival (63,64). A critical perspective<br />

that acknowledges the social impacts <strong>of</strong> addiction stemm<strong>in</strong>g from the drug trade by focus<strong>in</strong>g on the<br />

underly<strong>in</strong>g conditions lead<strong>in</strong>g to addiction <strong>in</strong> structurally oppressed Black communities is miss<strong>in</strong>g from<br />

the research.<br />

<strong>The</strong> scop<strong>in</strong>g review provided an opportunity to reveal the gaps <strong>of</strong> the peer-reviewed literature. Most<br />

notably, the research did not consider that communities are politically starved <strong>of</strong> the resources needed to<br />

create alternatives to the drug trade and all that comes with it. This orients policy and scholarship toward<br />

external sources <strong>of</strong> social capital as the solution to address drug-related harms, which presents a possible<br />

trade-<strong>of</strong>f with the <strong>in</strong>vestments needed for <strong>in</strong>digenous forms <strong>of</strong> social capital. <strong>The</strong> gaps underscore the<br />

importance <strong>of</strong> center<strong>in</strong>g discourse around scholarly works outside the academy when center<strong>in</strong>g<br />

restorative solutions <strong>in</strong> drug policy. <strong>The</strong> gaps also highlight the limitation that there is a vacuum <strong>of</strong><br />

research that <strong>in</strong>tegrates critical perspectives and co-produces knowledge with <strong>in</strong>stitutions impacted by<br />

drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization. Given that Black communities have been the most harmed by drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization<br />

as a vehicle <strong>of</strong> mass <strong>in</strong>carceration and social control, the body <strong>of</strong> research is not only <strong>in</strong>sufficient for<br />

<strong>in</strong>form<strong>in</strong>g restorative solutions to the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s, but it is possible it can block successful pathways<br />

toward liberation<br />

Historical Context <strong>of</strong> <strong>Drug</strong> <strong>Crim<strong>in</strong>alization</strong> <strong>in</strong> the US and the<br />

<strong>Crim<strong>in</strong>alization</strong> <strong>of</strong> Blackness<br />

A historical roadmap provides context <strong>in</strong>to the repair that is needed to address the destruction caused by<br />

the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s. Historical context aids <strong>in</strong> the <strong>in</strong>terpretation <strong>of</strong> the research completed and the<br />

recommendations <strong>of</strong>fered for which new visions <strong>of</strong> drug policy and harm reduction will be received.<br />

In the 1930s, the Federal Bureau <strong>of</strong> Narcotics (FBN) conjured racialized fears <strong>of</strong> marijuana result<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> its<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>alization and creat<strong>in</strong>g the threat <strong>of</strong> violence aga<strong>in</strong>st Black communities (65). Baltimore’s own Lady<br />

Day, Billie Holiday, was targeted by the FBN as she sang the famous song, “Strange Fruit,” <strong>in</strong> protest <strong>of</strong><br />

the lynch<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> Black Americans (66). Over the next few decades, political tactics around drug<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>alization took various forms (67). As civil rights activism for racial equality escalated and the Black<br />

Power movement rose up, the Nixon adm<strong>in</strong>istration declared a War on <strong>Drug</strong>s that enhanced anti-drug<br />

efforts and saw the implementation <strong>of</strong> tough-on-crime federal policies such as mandatory m<strong>in</strong>imum<br />

prison sentences (A History <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Drug</strong> War). Accord<strong>in</strong>g to Nixon’s domestic-policy advisor, John<br />

Ehrlichman, the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s was designed to target the enemies <strong>of</strong> the adm<strong>in</strong>istration which <strong>in</strong>cluded<br />

Black Americans (68). Ehrlichman later shared <strong>in</strong> an <strong>in</strong>terview:<br />

“<strong>The</strong> Nixon campaign <strong>in</strong> 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left<br />

and black people. You understand what I’m say<strong>in</strong>g? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either<br />

aga<strong>in</strong>st the war or black, but by gett<strong>in</strong>g the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with<br />

hero<strong>in</strong>, and then crim<strong>in</strong>aliz<strong>in</strong>g both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their<br />

leaders, raid their homes, break up their meet<strong>in</strong>gs, and vilify them night after night on the even<strong>in</strong>g news.<br />

Did we know we were ly<strong>in</strong>g about the drugs? Of course we did.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> Nixon adm<strong>in</strong>istration, operat<strong>in</strong>g through the CIA, is recorded <strong>in</strong>filtrat<strong>in</strong>g drugs <strong>in</strong> Black communities<br />

and conduct<strong>in</strong>g SWAT raids to target Black civil rights leaders and dismantle political mobilization<br />

(16,69,70). Black Power organizations formed across the country to defend their communities and combat<br />

the <strong>in</strong>flux <strong>of</strong> drugs. In Louisville, Kentucky, Black civil society organizations such as the Black Committee<br />

for Self- Defense (BCSD) and Stop Dope Now formed <strong>in</strong> response to concerns <strong>of</strong> drugs be<strong>in</strong>g used as a<br />

method <strong>of</strong> social control <strong>in</strong> Black communities to repress political and social activity (71). <strong>The</strong>se<br />

organizations focused on creat<strong>in</strong>g educational materials warn<strong>in</strong>g aga<strong>in</strong>st the harms <strong>of</strong> hero<strong>in</strong> and<br />

provided harm reduction services. Stop Dope Now was later <strong>in</strong>tegrated with government treatment<br />

programs which left it without community control or fund<strong>in</strong>g. <strong>The</strong> Black Panthers <strong>in</strong> Louisville were also<br />

21 <strong>of</strong> 55

work<strong>in</strong>g with other Black Power organizations to conduct anti-drug campaigns but after fac<strong>in</strong>g police<br />

repression and hav<strong>in</strong>g members arrested with false charges, lost traction <strong>in</strong> their efforts.<br />

<strong>The</strong> War on <strong>Drug</strong>s greatly expanded under Reagan’s adm<strong>in</strong>istration and states were <strong>in</strong>centivized with<br />

billions <strong>of</strong> dollars <strong>in</strong> federal aid to adopt harsh drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization policies target<strong>in</strong>g low-level drug<br />

<strong>of</strong>fenders that resulted <strong>in</strong> a massive and unequal <strong>in</strong>crease <strong>in</strong> drug arrests (72). Political support for these<br />

policies was largely driven by the media fuel<strong>in</strong>g anti-Black sentiments regard<strong>in</strong>g use <strong>of</strong> crack coca<strong>in</strong>e.<br />

Crack users were portrayed as violent, dangerous, and immoral be<strong>in</strong>gs that should be locked up and be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

a crack user was associated with be<strong>in</strong>g Black even though federal surveys at the time showed that most<br />

crack users were White or Hispanic (73). This led to the mass <strong>in</strong>carceration <strong>of</strong> entire Black communities<br />

and <strong>in</strong> the early 1990s, Black Americans were seven times as likely to be arrested for coca<strong>in</strong>e and narcotic<br />

<strong>of</strong>fenses than White Americans (74). Historically, the crim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>of</strong> drugs and the association <strong>of</strong> drugs<br />

with the Black community led to the crim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>of</strong> be<strong>in</strong>g Black and resulted <strong>in</strong> the erosion <strong>of</strong> Black<br />

civil society. <strong>The</strong> breakdown <strong>of</strong> Black civil society is especially concern<strong>in</strong>g with<strong>in</strong> the context <strong>of</strong> structural<br />

racism and racialized social control embedded <strong>in</strong> the history <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>in</strong> the U.S.<br />

Historical Context <strong>of</strong> <strong>Drug</strong> <strong>Crim<strong>in</strong>alization</strong> <strong>in</strong> Baltimore<br />

Historically, Black civil society <strong>in</strong>stitutions have functioned to ensure the survival and well-be<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> Black<br />

communities as well as provide addiction and harm reduction services. From an ACRP lens, the erosion <strong>of</strong><br />

Black civil society is key to understand<strong>in</strong>g the extent <strong>of</strong> the harm <strong>of</strong> the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s. Here we give two<br />

examples <strong>of</strong> the Model Cities program and the Nehemiah Project that highlight how Black civil society<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitutions <strong>in</strong> Baltimore have been impacted by urban renewal and their struggle for community control<br />

<strong>of</strong> resources.<br />

Prior to the upris<strong>in</strong>gs after Mart<strong>in</strong> Luther K<strong>in</strong>g Jr.’s assass<strong>in</strong>ation <strong>in</strong> 1968, fundamental neighborhood<br />

organiz<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong>ner city Baltimore developed to challenge unequal power structures and build local<br />

communal responses to <strong>in</strong>equality and oppression. Local strife over leadership and community control <strong>of</strong><br />

government programs <strong>in</strong> Baltimore reached a turn<strong>in</strong>g po<strong>in</strong>t after the Model Cities program was passed by<br />

Congress <strong>in</strong> 1966 (71). <strong>The</strong> program was designed to help restructure and renew blighted neighborhoods<br />

and Baltimore City <strong>of</strong>ficials drafted a proposal that focused on neighborhoods <strong>in</strong> east and west Baltimore<br />

that had high concentrations <strong>of</strong> people liv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> poverty. U-JOIN, a local Black civil society organization<br />

that advocated for the <strong>in</strong>terests <strong>of</strong> poor and work<strong>in</strong>g-class people, publicly demanded that poor people<br />

from <strong>in</strong>ner city neighborhoods be represented <strong>in</strong> the decision-mak<strong>in</strong>g for the proposal. <strong>The</strong>y expressed<br />

their frustration over broken promises <strong>of</strong> representation <strong>in</strong> the past by politicians and fears that the<br />

program would become “noth<strong>in</strong>g more than a junk heap <strong>of</strong> shattered hopes, broken promises and another<br />

grab bag for governmental big shots and traditional government agencies” (71).<br />

In 1967, Baltimore received a Model Cities plann<strong>in</strong>g grant <strong>of</strong> $204,000. One year later, the Department <strong>of</strong><br />

Hous<strong>in</strong>g and Urban Development (HUD) published a report that said Baltimore city <strong>of</strong>ficials failed to<br />

meet their standards for community support and participation. In response, a coalition <strong>of</strong> local Black-led<br />

organizations was formed <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g U-JOIN, Activists for Fair Hous<strong>in</strong>g Inc., Rescuers from Poverty, and<br />

<strong>The</strong> Congress <strong>of</strong> Racial Equality (CORE) and organized to demand control <strong>of</strong> the local Model Cities<br />

Agency. <strong>The</strong>y met several times with the mayor until a compromise was reached and the mayor agreed to<br />

allow the coalition control <strong>of</strong> the Model Cities community organiz<strong>in</strong>g division and elect representatives for<br />

a policy steer<strong>in</strong>g board that would approve plans for the program.<br />

Baltimore ga<strong>in</strong>ed national recognition as one <strong>of</strong> the few cities that won community control <strong>of</strong> its Model<br />

Cities program so that Black people had the power to address for themselves the issues <strong>in</strong> their own<br />

communities. From an ACRP lens, community control is critical for address<strong>in</strong>g the harms from the War<br />

on <strong>Drug</strong>s. <strong>The</strong> fight for community control cont<strong>in</strong>ued <strong>in</strong> the follow<strong>in</strong>g years when the mayor appo<strong>in</strong>ted<br />

Walter P. Carter, chair <strong>of</strong> the Baltimore chapter <strong>of</strong> CORE, to head the Community Action Agency (CAA).<br />

<strong>The</strong> city council president <strong>of</strong> the time, William D. Schaefer publicly rejected his nom<strong>in</strong>ation and say<strong>in</strong>g<br />

that he was “too radical” which led to Carter los<strong>in</strong>g his nom<strong>in</strong>ation (75). Many grassroot advocates who<br />

were members <strong>of</strong> the CAA resigned from their positions <strong>in</strong> protest, but this provides a prime example <strong>of</strong><br />

22 <strong>of</strong> 55

how efforts <strong>of</strong> Black civil society <strong>in</strong>stitutions, particularly around community control, were dampened and<br />

oppressed.<br />

Similarly, <strong>in</strong> the early 1990s, urban renewal Nehemiah Project hired an outside city planner (76). <strong>The</strong><br />

project coalesced <strong>in</strong>vestments from public and private organizations, play<strong>in</strong>g a significant role <strong>in</strong><br />

weaken<strong>in</strong>g and even stamp<strong>in</strong>g out exist<strong>in</strong>g community <strong>in</strong>stitutions <strong>in</strong> Black Baltimore neighborhoods.<br />

Investments made were from the top-up <strong>in</strong>to government and non-pr<strong>of</strong>it services, hollow<strong>in</strong>g out<br />

<strong>in</strong>digenous community <strong>in</strong>volvement. Community resident Athena Young carried out a street survey <strong>of</strong><br />

Baltimore neighborhood Sandtown <strong>in</strong> 1991:<br />

“<strong>The</strong> diversity that we observed <strong>in</strong> our first assessment was amaz<strong>in</strong>g… We passed evidence <strong>of</strong> Muslim and<br />

black nationalist activity: a Muslim carryout on Carey Street, the Nation Builders bookstore on North<br />

Avenue, and the home <strong>of</strong> a Rastafarian, with a Haile Selassie emblem and handwritten, apocalyptic<br />

messages posted <strong>in</strong> his w<strong>in</strong>dows. On ‘black bus<strong>in</strong>ess row’ on North Avenue across from the Nation<br />

Builders bookstore, black street vendors who live <strong>in</strong> the area come out around lunchtime and stay until<br />

dusk. Arabbers (black vendors who sell fruit, vegetables, and fish from horse-drawn wagons <strong>in</strong> West<br />

Baltimore) gather on W<strong>in</strong>chester Street, at the stable <strong>of</strong> Sandtown’s senior Arabber, whose street name is<br />

Fatback. <strong>The</strong>re they collect their produce and merchandise to sell on the streets <strong>of</strong> Sandtown. Fatback’s<br />

stable was later bulldozed to make way for the Nehemiah Project.” (Harold McDougall, Black Baltimore: A<br />

New <strong>The</strong>ory <strong>of</strong> Community)<br />

<strong>The</strong> Nehemiah Project led to further police presence <strong>in</strong> Sandtown and <strong>in</strong>creased hyper-<strong>in</strong>carceration <strong>of</strong><br />

residents <strong>in</strong> the neighborhood. It serves as a historical example that <strong>in</strong>vestment <strong>in</strong> and <strong>of</strong> itself has not<br />

proven to be liberatory. <strong>The</strong> destruction <strong>of</strong> Black civil society is not limited to the community harms <strong>of</strong><br />

drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization and what we see as mass <strong>in</strong>carceration.<br />

Qualitative Study<br />

Methodology<br />

<strong>The</strong> scop<strong>in</strong>g review revealed the dearth <strong>of</strong> research on community harms <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization. Given<br />

that research typically <strong>in</strong>cludes the perspectives, assumptions, and <strong>in</strong>terests <strong>of</strong> those who conduct the<br />

research, a qualitative study challenged traditional notions <strong>of</strong> research and undertook (PAR)<br />

methodologies <strong>in</strong>formed by grassroot activist agendas (22). In order to move beyond traditional and<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitutionalized paradigms <strong>of</strong> understand<strong>in</strong>g and solutions, <strong>in</strong>formation-rich community leaders were<br />

identified and asked to participate for an hour and a half <strong>in</strong>-depth <strong>in</strong>terview. In consultation with the<br />

report’s community-based researcher, the research team developed the research questions, <strong>in</strong>terview<br />

guide, and recruitment criteria.<br />

A purposeful sampl<strong>in</strong>g approach began with the community-based researcher identify<strong>in</strong>g Baltimorebased<br />

community leaders with values aligned with African-Centered perspectives and experience work<strong>in</strong>g<br />

on the <strong>in</strong>tersections <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization, addiction, and community economic development. After each<br />

<strong>in</strong>itial <strong>in</strong>terview, we asked for further recruits and a warm email <strong>in</strong>troduction. With a goal to <strong>in</strong>vite<br />

approximately 15 participants to <strong>in</strong>terview, over the course <strong>of</strong> seven months <strong>in</strong> 2022, we <strong>in</strong>terviewed 12<br />

Baltimore-based community experts who identified as community organizers, youth mentors, grassroots<br />

or academic educators, mental health and social work pr<strong>of</strong>essionals, harm reduction organizers, and<br />

holistic addiction providers.<br />

Participants were <strong>of</strong>fered a $50 gift card for a token <strong>of</strong> appreciation. <strong>The</strong> research process was approved<br />

by the University <strong>of</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong> Baltimore’s Intuitional Review Board. <strong>The</strong> participants are listed below<br />

us<strong>in</strong>g pseudonyms that they provided or, if they did not provide one, an assigned pseudonym. <strong>The</strong><br />

demographic <strong>in</strong>formation was also assigned to the best <strong>of</strong> the knowledge <strong>of</strong> the research team.<br />

23 <strong>of</strong> 55

Pseudonym<br />

Occupation/Community Role<br />

Age Group (Young<br />

Adult: ~20-30,<br />

Adult: ~30-55,<br />

Elder: ~55+)<br />

Race<br />

Gender<br />

Milton Community organizer/Youth leader Young Adult Black Male<br />

J<br />

Community social worker/Mental health<br />

provider<br />

Adult Black Male<br />

Jay Community Scholar Elder Black Male<br />

Olusola Addictions provider/Community elder Elder Black Male<br />

Amy Holistic organizational consultant Adult White Female<br />

Agnes Church leader Elder Black Female<br />

Rashard Grassroots educator Young Adult Black Male<br />

Charles Mental health provider/Community Scholar Elder Black Male<br />

Donna Mental health provider/Community Scholar Adult Black Female<br />

Monica Harm Reduction advocate Adult Black Transgender Woman<br />

Tabatha Indigenous Practitioner Elder Black Female<br />

Calv<strong>in</strong> Community mental health provider Adult Black Male<br />

<strong>The</strong> f<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>gs shared <strong>in</strong> this report are organized <strong>in</strong>to themes related to the <strong>in</strong>terview guide and the values<br />

that shaped its development. We first elicited historical events from <strong>in</strong>terviewees to understand the root<br />

causes <strong>of</strong> addiction <strong>in</strong> Baltimore and drew from historical documentation to supplement the <strong>in</strong>terviewees<br />

experiences. We then discussed the community impact <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization, concerns around<br />

decrim<strong>in</strong>alization, and <strong>in</strong>sights <strong>in</strong>to policy and practice recommendations. Interviews were conducted,<br />

audio recorded, and transcribed by two academic-based researchers. <strong>The</strong> academic and community-based<br />

researcher team together debriefed after every two to three <strong>in</strong>terviews to <strong>in</strong>terpret the f<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>gs and<br />

solidify themes based on our theoretical frameworks and identify further questions for subsequent<br />

<strong>in</strong>terviews. F<strong>in</strong>al themes were organized <strong>in</strong>to a narrative story start<strong>in</strong>g from a historical po<strong>in</strong>t <strong>of</strong> view to<br />

f<strong>in</strong>al recommendations. <strong>The</strong> report f<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>gs are shared through the lens <strong>of</strong> the community-based<br />

researcher, other academic and non-academic literature sources, and the lessons learned from participant<br />

<strong>in</strong>terviews. We hope that the qualitative study can be used as an example <strong>of</strong> what needs to be happen<strong>in</strong>g<br />

more <strong>in</strong> academic sett<strong>in</strong>gs to shift power and knowledge production to those most impacted by research.<br />

Qualitative Study F<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

Interviewee Perspectives on the Community <strong>Impacts</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Drug</strong> <strong>Crim<strong>in</strong>alization</strong><br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>in</strong>terviewees from Baltimore expressed various harms felt by drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization and all that it<br />

encompasses, <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g the roots <strong>of</strong> addiction and its roots <strong>in</strong> racialized oppression and coercive mobility.<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>in</strong>terviewees spotlighted the harms directed toward Black civil society, provid<strong>in</strong>g tangible examples <strong>of</strong><br />

how systems <strong>of</strong> White supremacy created <strong>in</strong>equities seen <strong>in</strong> the epidemic <strong>of</strong> mass <strong>in</strong>carceration. <strong>The</strong><br />

theory <strong>of</strong> coercive mobility, brought on partially by the social disruption <strong>of</strong> drug enforcement and<br />

bandaged up with state-sponsored social service systems is brought to light <strong>in</strong> the <strong>in</strong>terviews, show<strong>in</strong>g<br />

how oppressive conditions related to drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization, perpetually re<strong>in</strong>forced disadvantage.<br />

<strong>The</strong> community impacts are contextualized by the roots <strong>of</strong> addiction <strong>in</strong> Black civil society, the realities <strong>of</strong><br />

coercive mobility on black autonomy, and the pressures <strong>of</strong> the prison <strong>in</strong>dustrial complex.<br />

<strong>The</strong> impacts <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization were recounted as the breakdown <strong>of</strong> family and community bonds,<br />

the psychological and spiritual dislocation from oneself and community, and the erosion <strong>of</strong> Black civil<br />

society <strong>in</strong>stitutions that serve to connect one another.<br />

24 <strong>of</strong> 55

<strong>The</strong> Roots <strong>of</strong> Addiction <strong>in</strong> Black Civil Society<br />

Interviewees identified root causes <strong>of</strong> addiction <strong>in</strong> their community to the core <strong>of</strong> systemic racism <strong>in</strong> the<br />

U.S. <strong>The</strong> <strong>in</strong>terviewees described how systems <strong>of</strong> racism played out <strong>in</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization and how it<br />

impacted Black civil society. First and foremost, it is difficult to p<strong>in</strong>po<strong>in</strong>t <strong>in</strong> the toxic cycle <strong>of</strong> addiction,<br />

drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization, and the larger historical context <strong>of</strong> racialized social control where one started and<br />

the next began. As one <strong>in</strong>terviewee said, “It's like the chicken or the egg sort <strong>of</strong> concept. If we don't ask<br />

that question, because I th<strong>in</strong>k that's a whole ‘nother rabbit hole, but if we don't ask that question, then it's<br />

confus<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> what started first?” (Donna). However, a consistent theme <strong>of</strong> the historical context <strong>of</strong> drug<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>in</strong> Baltimore was foundational upon the racist agenda <strong>of</strong> the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s. As discussed<br />

earlier <strong>in</strong> the report, the anti-Black agenda <strong>of</strong> the Nixon adm<strong>in</strong>istration was noted by one <strong>in</strong>terviewee:<br />

“<strong>The</strong> whole idea <strong>of</strong> the war on drugs, I remember when Nixon did it. When he said it, we<br />

suspected this is just a tactic to destroy the [Black] community because Black power had just,<br />

you know, you could actually say those two words and not be knocked <strong>in</strong> the head or killed or<br />

thrown <strong>in</strong> jail.” (Olusola)<br />

Another example raised by a scholar who has worked <strong>in</strong> systems <strong>of</strong> drug treatment s<strong>in</strong>ce the 70s recalled:<br />

“In the 80s, a lot <strong>of</strong> the stuff came together. It was the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s, the school to prison<br />

pipel<strong>in</strong>e, HIV, more guns <strong>in</strong> the community, crack. All <strong>of</strong> a sudden, this is <strong>in</strong> the community. In<br />

my m<strong>in</strong>d it seems to be a reaction to the 70s when there was a rais<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> [Black] consciousness<br />

and the backlash that was facilitated through the Reagan adm<strong>in</strong>istration. More people <strong>of</strong> color<br />

became vulnerable to substance abuse.” (Charles)<br />

<strong>The</strong> goal <strong>of</strong> the adm<strong>in</strong>istration was to demonize and slow the growth <strong>of</strong> Black <strong>in</strong>dependent political power<br />

and Black sovereignty which they saw as a threat. This was accomplished by fram<strong>in</strong>g the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s as<br />

a matter <strong>of</strong> safety for the nation. <strong>The</strong> question the <strong>in</strong>terviewee posed <strong>of</strong> who is be<strong>in</strong>g kept safe by these<br />

policies is critical s<strong>in</strong>ce the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s was never meant to keep the Black community safe but <strong>in</strong>stead<br />

to create racialized violence by associat<strong>in</strong>g the dangers <strong>of</strong> drugs with the Black community. <strong>The</strong> drug<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>alization policies that emerged from the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s cannot be separated from the anti-Black<br />

agenda <strong>of</strong> its orig<strong>in</strong>. As one <strong>in</strong>terviewee said, “the African-Centered perspective has a very cynical view <strong>of</strong><br />

the social policy agenda. It does recognize that there are some good efforts out here, but the system itself<br />

is about racial control.” (Jay) <strong>The</strong> <strong>in</strong>terviewee went on to expla<strong>in</strong>:<br />

“We know about the whole emphasis on drugs, particularly <strong>in</strong> the 90s, with more punishment<br />

and crim<strong>in</strong>alization associated with crack coca<strong>in</strong>e versus powder coca<strong>in</strong>e. You’ve seen that k<strong>in</strong>d<br />

<strong>of</strong> racial disparity. So <strong>in</strong> order to really, I th<strong>in</strong>k, get a hold <strong>of</strong> the substance abuse problem <strong>in</strong><br />

Baltimore City, we have to connect it to the crim<strong>in</strong>al justice problem, which also is connected to<br />

the overall problem <strong>in</strong> my view <strong>of</strong> White supremacy, which is manifested <strong>in</strong> the legacy <strong>of</strong><br />

persistent poverty, the disappo<strong>in</strong>tment and shame that is associated with be<strong>in</strong>g Black, the<br />

vilification <strong>of</strong> be<strong>in</strong>g Black, and the k<strong>in</strong>ds <strong>of</strong> disruptions to the family system.” (Jay)<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>in</strong>terviewee made it clear that to understand the root causes <strong>of</strong> addiction <strong>in</strong> Baltimore, one must<br />

acknowledge how White supremacy played a role <strong>in</strong> the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s and the punitive drug<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>alization policies that followed. Harm manifests <strong>in</strong> Black civil society <strong>in</strong> vast and complex ways and<br />

here we break them down <strong>in</strong>to topic areas based on themes that emerged from the <strong>in</strong>terviews.<br />

Conditions <strong>of</strong> Persistent Poverty and Coercive Mobility<br />

Interviewees discussed how their communities have been made economically weaker by generations <strong>of</strong><br />

government policies with an anti-Black agenda such as redl<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g, which began <strong>in</strong> the 1930s and was the<br />

practice <strong>of</strong> “outl<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g areas with sizable Black populations <strong>in</strong> red <strong>in</strong>k on maps as a warn<strong>in</strong>g to mortgage<br />

lenders, effectively isolat<strong>in</strong>g Black people <strong>in</strong> areas that would suffer lower levels <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>vestment than their<br />

White counterparts”. One <strong>in</strong>terviewee discussed how this impacted their community, say<strong>in</strong>g:<br />

“Redl<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g, this had a serious impact on hav<strong>in</strong>g a stagnant environment, people’s ability to<br />

vision change and get out <strong>of</strong> the environment, there is some level <strong>of</strong> condition<strong>in</strong>g to accept the<br />

day to day <strong>of</strong> the environment. <strong>The</strong> lack <strong>of</strong> quality <strong>of</strong> schools and education, as a means <strong>of</strong><br />

25 <strong>of</strong> 55

limit<strong>in</strong>g a pipel<strong>in</strong>e. <strong>The</strong>re’s not clear paths, you either have to take an uphill road that isn’t very<br />

effective, or you have to hit the streets and accept these are the way th<strong>in</strong>gs are.” (Rashard)<br />

An environment where conditions <strong>of</strong> poor hous<strong>in</strong>g and education have been created and enforced by<br />

racist policies left people without the resources needed to access the traditional job market. It also left<br />

people feel<strong>in</strong>g like there were no viable options other than turn<strong>in</strong>g to the streets as a means <strong>of</strong> survival or<br />

use drugs to cope with the harsh realities. One <strong>in</strong>terviewee described this phenomenon say<strong>in</strong>g:<br />

“<strong>The</strong> problem is that we know <strong>in</strong> poor communities, like Black people's communities<br />

traditionally, there's a huge and urgent need for additional streams <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>come. And there's a<br />

pretty well documented history <strong>of</strong> kids tak<strong>in</strong>g up that type <strong>of</strong> ownership over contributions to<br />

the household space and aga<strong>in</strong>, if you a kid with no skills, no formal tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g, no like legitimate<br />

connections to large money or politics or anyth<strong>in</strong>g else, you have what’s around you and<br />

available and so, traditionally, sell<strong>in</strong>g a little bit <strong>of</strong> weed is most people's <strong>in</strong>troductory to be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

able to go and move about and make money.” (Milton)<br />

It was not only children <strong>in</strong> their community who were sell<strong>in</strong>g drugs to support themselves and their<br />

families. <strong>The</strong> <strong>in</strong>terviewee recounted:<br />

“Like I got a homeboy right now who expla<strong>in</strong>ed to me how he really don't want to sell coke. But<br />

if he go get an eighth <strong>of</strong> coke and some fentanyl and cut it down, he know he could pay his rent...<br />

there's no opportunity that I can see, that switches out for him.” (Milton)<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>in</strong>terviewee went on to expla<strong>in</strong> that for most people, sell<strong>in</strong>g drugs was due to a lack <strong>of</strong> economic<br />

opportunity say<strong>in</strong>g:<br />

“A lot <strong>of</strong> these people don't want to sell drugs. <strong>The</strong>ir goal is to get to a particular<br />

economic position and then get out... <strong>The</strong>re's no alternative that allows them to do<br />

that. It’s not like you can take that same person and get rid <strong>of</strong> their product and then like have<br />

them work at Amazon and they'll be clear<strong>in</strong>g the same amount- there's no <strong>in</strong>centive there for<br />

that. <strong>The</strong> lack <strong>of</strong> opportunity leads to this immense economic pressure for people who don't have<br />

those skills, just really look for <strong>in</strong> like the traditional job economy to like, engage <strong>in</strong> the drug<br />

economy because that's where what skills and connections they have works.” (Milton)<br />

<strong>The</strong> limited options <strong>in</strong> the traditional job market for people <strong>in</strong> their community were unable to provide<br />

the economic opportunities that would allow people to thrive and not just survive. As a result, hidden<br />

sources <strong>of</strong> social capital were explored to meet material needs which led people to the drug economy. In<br />

the scop<strong>in</strong>g review, we found that exist<strong>in</strong>g literature <strong>of</strong>ten framed social connections to those who use or<br />

sell drugs as negative. But from an ACRP lens, it is important to identify these culturally adaptive<br />

structures that have been demonstrated to be beneficial to the survival and advancement <strong>of</strong> Black people.<br />

As one <strong>in</strong>terviewee said:<br />

“<strong>The</strong>re are a lot <strong>of</strong> people that have been <strong>in</strong>carcerated for drugs. <strong>The</strong>y just needed to make<br />

money. <strong>The</strong>y were try<strong>in</strong>g to ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong> and so a lot <strong>of</strong> brilliance is <strong>in</strong>carcerated, a lot <strong>of</strong><br />

entrepreneurialism is <strong>in</strong>carcerated. Not because they were addicted, but because they were<br />

try<strong>in</strong>g to survive <strong>in</strong> this system that was never really designed for their survival.” (J)<br />

<strong>The</strong> social capital people use to sell drugs as a means <strong>of</strong> survival and economic empowerment were viewed<br />

<strong>in</strong> a context <strong>of</strong> opportunities and constra<strong>in</strong>ts rather than be<strong>in</strong>g ruled out as negative due to the illicit<br />

nature <strong>of</strong> the drug trade. However, <strong>in</strong>terviewees were clear that they did not condone the negative social<br />

impacts <strong>of</strong> addiction or violence stemm<strong>in</strong>g from the drug trade. Sell<strong>in</strong>g drugs was seen as an unfortunate<br />

option for economic advancement that resulted from historical dis<strong>in</strong>vestment <strong>in</strong> Black communities.<br />

People who sell drugs can be seen as contribut<strong>in</strong>g members <strong>in</strong> their communities because they have the<br />

economic means to provide for community members:<br />

“You know, a lot <strong>of</strong> the people who youth look up to end up be<strong>in</strong>g the people us<strong>in</strong>g the drugs for<br />

economic opportunity. Like the dealers end up be<strong>in</strong>g the people who have economic means to<br />

look out for you, to drive the car, to show stability <strong>in</strong> the community, flexibility and growth.”<br />

(Milton)<br />

26 <strong>of</strong> 55

Dis<strong>in</strong>vestment <strong>in</strong> Black communities has left the drug trade as a major means <strong>of</strong> economic empowerment.<br />

This was understood <strong>in</strong> the context <strong>of</strong> the mass <strong>in</strong>carceration <strong>of</strong> Black people due to drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization.<br />

Systems <strong>of</strong> White supremacy and their negative impacts on Black civil society can be connected to why<br />

communities turn to the drug trade for economic opportunities and how the violence and mass<br />

<strong>in</strong>carceration from drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization policies are used to further dismantle the social, economic and<br />

political power <strong>in</strong> these same communities.<br />

As one <strong>in</strong>terviewee put it:<br />

“If one goes with the social control perspective and social control is racialized, then that's racial<br />

control. What is the best way to control people? To convict them, lock them up. It is a vicious<br />

cycle <strong>of</strong> be<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> prison, com<strong>in</strong>g out without provid<strong>in</strong>g a lot <strong>of</strong> opportunities which places the<br />

person at further risk. For what? Go<strong>in</strong>g back, a vicious cycle <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>carceration.” (Jay)<br />

<strong>The</strong> Pressures <strong>of</strong> the Prison Industrial Complex:<br />

Incarceration and Police Brutality<br />

Build<strong>in</strong>g prisons and keep<strong>in</strong>g them filled <strong>in</strong> order to make more money contributes to community harm.<br />

An <strong>in</strong>terviewee who worked <strong>in</strong> the crim<strong>in</strong>al justice system provided <strong>in</strong>sight <strong>in</strong>to the economic model <strong>of</strong><br />

prison systems <strong>in</strong> Baltimore, stat<strong>in</strong>g:<br />

I was once <strong>in</strong> an executive meet<strong>in</strong>g that was about all the money that was be<strong>in</strong>g put <strong>in</strong> a new<br />

prison to be built. One <strong>of</strong> the th<strong>in</strong>gs that was said, well if we keep build<strong>in</strong>g, they’ll keep com<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

If your perspective is that you should build more prisons because you'll fill them, then I th<strong>in</strong>k<br />

you’re <strong>in</strong> the wrong l<strong>in</strong>e <strong>of</strong> work, and you're a part <strong>of</strong> the problem. You're not the solution. So,<br />

it's the whole th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g that’s there, and it's real because it is an opportunity down to the toilet<br />

paper that is sold <strong>in</strong> a prison system, this is a big money maker.” (Tabatha)<br />

Police surveillance and brutality was also a recurr<strong>in</strong>g theme among participants when discuss<strong>in</strong>g<br />

community harm from drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization. One <strong>in</strong>terviewee expressed their concern that police are<br />

typically the answer to issues that arise <strong>in</strong> Black communities, which creates apprehension around a sole<br />

approach to decrim<strong>in</strong>alization. One <strong>in</strong>terviewee recounted:<br />

“In Sandtown, the boys were talk<strong>in</strong>g about the police be<strong>in</strong>g just another gang because they’d<br />

jump our boys! In an unmarked car they'd come <strong>in</strong>to the community, <strong>in</strong>to the neighborhood and<br />

jump out and just start knock<strong>in</strong>g people around and push<strong>in</strong>g people around and, accus<strong>in</strong>g<br />

people <strong>of</strong> th<strong>in</strong>gs. And the children experienced this. How can they go to the police with<br />

anyth<strong>in</strong>g when the police could not be trusted? [emphasis added] And they knew that<br />

the police were bust<strong>in</strong>g people and tak<strong>in</strong>g their drugs and not report<strong>in</strong>g. You know the kid, the<br />

corner boy would have to give up his stash and the police would leave him alone. Well, what<br />

was this k<strong>in</strong>d <strong>of</strong> th<strong>in</strong>g? So, we're here talk<strong>in</strong>g to these children about try<strong>in</strong>g to do the right th<strong>in</strong>g<br />

and obey the law and all that and then they say well, look at the people who are do<strong>in</strong>g the law,<br />

the contradiction there!” (Olusola)<br />

<strong>The</strong> use <strong>of</strong> drugs to unjustly target Black people is a tactic that has been used for decades <strong>in</strong> the U.S. and is<br />

still be<strong>in</strong>g done to this day <strong>in</strong> Baltimore. Increased surveillance <strong>in</strong> predom<strong>in</strong>antly Black neighborhoods<br />

where drug treatment centers are also usually located also created barriers to access<strong>in</strong>g services. One<br />

<strong>in</strong>terviewee recounted:<br />

“A lot <strong>of</strong> time the police post up there [at drug addiction centers], assum<strong>in</strong>g that these people<br />

who are struggl<strong>in</strong>g with addiction gotta be <strong>in</strong>to some crim<strong>in</strong>al activities. If I’m try<strong>in</strong>g to get<br />

help, I have to deal with that. Be on display.” (Rashard)<br />

Community members experienced unsolicited violence from the police and saw police <strong>of</strong>ficers break<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the law which led to a lack <strong>of</strong> trust and fear. One harm reduction advocate work<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> policy advocacy and<br />

community organiz<strong>in</strong>g mentioned:<br />

27 <strong>of</strong> 55

“Black and brown people are be<strong>in</strong>g targeted at higher rates for drug possession and<br />

paraphernalia. One th<strong>in</strong>g we have to combat every day <strong>in</strong> Baltimore, is drugs be<strong>in</strong>g planted on<br />

people and people be<strong>in</strong>g stopped unjustly and searched. People are even be<strong>in</strong>g ticketed and f<strong>in</strong>ed<br />

for hav<strong>in</strong>g cotton or alcohol wipes. <strong>The</strong> police are taken advantage <strong>of</strong> there be<strong>in</strong>g a grey area.<br />

I’m hop<strong>in</strong>g that all drug paraphernalia will be decrim<strong>in</strong>alized and eventually legalized so that<br />

cops can't target Black and brown people like they're do<strong>in</strong>g.” (Monica)<br />

<strong>The</strong> Breakdown <strong>of</strong> Family and Community Bonds<br />

When <strong>in</strong>terviewees were asked how they saw the impact <strong>of</strong> drug use on their community, the core <strong>of</strong> their<br />

concerns was the breakdown <strong>of</strong> community and conditions <strong>of</strong> violence created by the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s and<br />

subsequent policies. <strong>The</strong>ir perspective on the impacts <strong>of</strong> drug use and drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>of</strong>ten<br />

overlapped with the root causes <strong>of</strong> drug addiction because these factors were <strong>in</strong>tertw<strong>in</strong>ed and fed <strong>in</strong>to one<br />

another <strong>in</strong> a vicious cycle. One <strong>in</strong>terviewee stated:<br />

“So, if we talk about how drug use and drug abuse impacts my community, I would say it<br />

impacts a community sort <strong>of</strong> multi-generationally and the decomposition <strong>of</strong> the Black family<br />

unit. It impacts the family, <strong>of</strong>ten for the <strong>in</strong>dividual that is experienc<strong>in</strong>g the hardship, the<br />

dehumanization process, the further dehumanization process <strong>of</strong> folks <strong>of</strong> African descent,<br />

especially. It impacts the family unit and the <strong>in</strong>dividual's ability to access quality health care.”<br />

(Donna)<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>in</strong>terviewee made it clear that the racialized agenda <strong>of</strong> drug policy was to target Black communities<br />

and that it was designed to erode family systems. This was also noted by another <strong>in</strong>terviewee:<br />

<strong>The</strong> dynamics <strong>of</strong> community has changed... When I was grow<strong>in</strong>g up, my mother was home.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re was always that person <strong>in</strong> the community or a couple <strong>of</strong> people <strong>in</strong> the community that<br />

even did daycare <strong>in</strong> the community, watch over, overseers <strong>of</strong> the community, and would watch<br />

children <strong>in</strong> the community. So, there was that collectiveness. But when you then throw addiction<br />

on top <strong>of</strong> that, you throw <strong>in</strong>carceration on top <strong>of</strong> that, you throw <strong>in</strong> the laws that came <strong>in</strong> the<br />

70s where people had a small amount <strong>of</strong> coca<strong>in</strong>e, and they got 25 years. So, when you remove<br />

the family systems, when you break down those systems, this is what we are see<strong>in</strong>g. It’s<br />

impact<strong>in</strong>g everybody.” (Tabatha)<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>in</strong>terviewee described how the responsibilities shared among community members <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g<br />

childcare were essential to creat<strong>in</strong>g a sense <strong>of</strong> collectiveness and to build<strong>in</strong>g up the conditions needed for<br />

people to thrive. <strong>The</strong> loss <strong>of</strong> community members to addiction and mass <strong>in</strong>carceration weakened social<br />

networks as described by the concept <strong>of</strong> coercive mobility (Clear 2009). Another <strong>in</strong>terviewee put it:<br />

“<strong>The</strong> ma<strong>in</strong> theme is separation and separation occurs on multiple levels. It's the selective<br />

enforcement <strong>of</strong> crim<strong>in</strong>aliz<strong>in</strong>g drugs. <strong>The</strong>re is an impact <strong>of</strong> racialized and economic trauma so<br />

that it separates society at large, but on the <strong>in</strong>dividual level, it separates relatives from each<br />

other. Because if I'm locked up, I'm removed from society. I'm <strong>in</strong>carcerated. <strong>The</strong>n I have no<br />

physical contact, so there's no hugg<strong>in</strong>g, there's no kiss<strong>in</strong>g good night. <strong>The</strong>re's no wak<strong>in</strong>g up <strong>in</strong><br />

the morn<strong>in</strong>g. <strong>The</strong>re's no physical way <strong>of</strong> transmitt<strong>in</strong>g stories, traditions, family<br />

l<strong>in</strong>eage and family knowledge. And so, there's this tremendous impact <strong>of</strong> separation on the<br />

physical. Also, the separation <strong>of</strong> relationship. I don’t know my uncle because he was<br />

<strong>in</strong>carcerated s<strong>in</strong>ce before I was born. I don’t know my mother because she has been <strong>in</strong> and out <strong>of</strong><br />

halfway homes and recovery houses because its court ordered, or because I’ve been placed <strong>in</strong><br />

foster care.” (J)<br />

Physical separation result<strong>in</strong>g from <strong>in</strong>carceration leads to a breakdown <strong>in</strong> family relationships. This has an<br />

especially deep impact on the ability <strong>of</strong> parents to raise their children.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> crim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>of</strong> drugs may also <strong>in</strong>clude the foster care system because children are not<br />

there by choice. It serves to separate. It is a tool <strong>of</strong> western and White supremacy <strong>in</strong> all k<strong>in</strong>ds <strong>of</strong><br />

communities, not just <strong>in</strong> Baltimore.” (J)<br />

28 <strong>of</strong> 55

When you <strong>in</strong>carcerate the mothers and the fathers, where does that leave the children, right? It<br />

overburdens the foster care system, it leads to more and more childhood trauma, and that<br />

trauma, you know my father used to say, pa<strong>in</strong> begets pa<strong>in</strong>.” (J)<br />

Children be<strong>in</strong>g separated from their parents and placed <strong>in</strong> the foster care system leads to a cycle <strong>of</strong> family<br />

and community breakdown, trauma, and substance use to deal with the trauma.<br />

Psychological and Spiritual <strong>Impacts</strong><br />

Historical and environmental factors lead<strong>in</strong>g to community harm also impact communities <strong>in</strong> ways that<br />

are more <strong>in</strong>ternal to human flourish<strong>in</strong>g; the psychological and spiritual conditions <strong>of</strong> harm. Us<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

ACRP lens, an <strong>in</strong>terviewee po<strong>in</strong>ts out how <strong>in</strong>ternalized harm cannot be separated from the environmental<br />

factors <strong>of</strong> oppression that give rise to it. <strong>The</strong> anti-Black agenda <strong>of</strong> many social policies <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g drug<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>alization and mass <strong>in</strong>carceration over the years has resulted <strong>in</strong> the <strong>in</strong>ternalization <strong>of</strong> stigma and<br />

shame, lead<strong>in</strong>g to spiritual disconnect and violence with<strong>in</strong> communities. As one <strong>in</strong>terviewee put it:<br />

“One <strong>of</strong> the th<strong>in</strong>gs that mass <strong>in</strong>carceration and the crim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>of</strong> drugs does is that it labels<br />

human be<strong>in</strong>gs and then it beg<strong>in</strong>s to dehumanize them based on those labels. Anytime you have a<br />

war aga<strong>in</strong>st someth<strong>in</strong>g or someone then we create this projection <strong>of</strong> the other person as an<br />

enemy. In order for me to engage <strong>in</strong> this war I have to, psychologically and systematically<br />

dehumanize the other person. Because if I see them as a human, I can't really kill them with<br />

impunity or, or <strong>in</strong>carcerate them and have a conscience about it.” (J)<br />

<strong>The</strong> effectiveness <strong>of</strong> the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s <strong>in</strong> dehumaniz<strong>in</strong>g people has resulted <strong>in</strong> entire communities<br />

experienc<strong>in</strong>g psychological and spiritual suffer<strong>in</strong>g which can lead to substance use. One <strong>in</strong>terviewee who<br />

was a community mental health provider shared:<br />

“When you go <strong>in</strong>to people's homes and you sit on their couches and you see their lives, you<br />

realize that entire communities are liv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> depressed or anxious states. That drugs are both<br />

harm<strong>in</strong>g and help<strong>in</strong>g th<strong>in</strong>gs to not get as worse as they could be. <strong>The</strong>y are crutches but<br />

sometimes they are necessary when you got a broken leg. So, am I blam<strong>in</strong>g you for us<strong>in</strong>g your<br />

crutches? Now my leg is healed but now there's noth<strong>in</strong>g but obstacles for me to trip over; what's<br />

the usefulness <strong>of</strong> lett<strong>in</strong>g go <strong>of</strong> these crutches? You might as well hold on to it. <strong>The</strong>y work.” (J)<br />

<strong>The</strong> oppression <strong>of</strong> Black culture has harmed how communities see themselves and each other. This<br />

<strong>in</strong>terviewee emphasized how <strong>in</strong>digenous resources and methods <strong>of</strong> heal<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> Black civil society have been<br />

actively oppressed and leaves people turn<strong>in</strong>g to substance use as a way to numb pa<strong>in</strong> and deal with<br />

generational trauma. Interviewees saw African-Centered values which <strong>in</strong>clude spirituality, sense <strong>of</strong><br />

purpose, and connection to community as key to address<strong>in</strong>g the root causes <strong>of</strong> addiction.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Non-Pr<strong>of</strong>it Industrial Complex and Lack <strong>of</strong> Community-Led Solutions<br />

<strong>Drug</strong> prohibition <strong>in</strong>flicted upon the urban underclass has damaged the <strong>in</strong>frastructure <strong>of</strong> targeted<br />

communities through dis<strong>in</strong>vestment, de<strong>in</strong>dustrialization and build<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> non-pr<strong>of</strong>it service systems. <strong>The</strong><br />

impact <strong>of</strong> these processes across generations has transformed social capital and a sense <strong>of</strong> community.<br />

Insight <strong>in</strong>to the social service, non-pr<strong>of</strong>it <strong>in</strong>dustrial complex on the social arrangements and drug<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>alization sheds light on the push and pull <strong>of</strong> agency between community and non-community<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitutions, with non-community <strong>in</strong>stitutions <strong>of</strong>ten be<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> control <strong>of</strong> resources to address community<br />

harm from the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s. Interviewees spoke to the role <strong>of</strong> non-community <strong>in</strong>stitutions who<br />

benefitted from grants designed to improve neighborhoods. Instead <strong>of</strong> help<strong>in</strong>g the neighborhoods and<br />

community <strong>in</strong> which they were situated, these <strong>in</strong>stitutions benefited at their expense. Interviewees<br />

described both material harms to the community and loss <strong>of</strong> trust and hope <strong>in</strong> local and federal<br />

government that resulted from the funnel<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> community-designated funds and services to these<br />

powerful <strong>in</strong>stitutions. An example <strong>of</strong> this was given:<br />

“I remember when Bill Cl<strong>in</strong>ton did the empowerment zone <strong>of</strong>fer... We got the proposal, we got<br />

the grant or at least it seemed. Because when the 100 million dollars was awarded, it basically<br />

goes to the University <strong>of</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong> and to Johns Hopk<strong>in</strong>s-one on the west side, one on the east<br />

side. Where’s the 100 million dollars? Where’s the money you said was go<strong>in</strong>g to be for<br />

29 <strong>of</strong> 55

health and for community education? Where is it? Where did it go?! And Hopk<strong>in</strong>s<br />

expanded, the University <strong>of</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong> expanded and look at the neighborhoods<br />

around them. <strong>The</strong>y’re the same way. It was the same old th<strong>in</strong>g. [emphasis added] And<br />

I had been so naive to th<strong>in</strong>k that there was go<strong>in</strong>g to be 100 million dollars given to<br />

Baltimore City and actually 10 cents was go<strong>in</strong>g to actually hit the ground. No, no. <strong>The</strong>se Black<br />

politicians worked with the White politicians <strong>in</strong> the bus<strong>in</strong>ess community. Sucked up every dime<br />

<strong>of</strong> that hundred million dollars! Where is the evidence? It's <strong>in</strong> the build<strong>in</strong>gs at the University<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong> and the build<strong>in</strong>gs at Johns Hopk<strong>in</strong>s. That's where all that money went and the fact<br />

that the people were devastated, meant noth<strong>in</strong>g. This still doesn't mean anyth<strong>in</strong>g. People don’t<br />

even remember the program-remember that it happened at all!” (Olusola)<br />

It is important to note that <strong>in</strong>terviewees did not view all non-community <strong>in</strong>stitutions as harmful but that<br />

they saw a lack <strong>of</strong> options for Black people to own and implement their own solutions to address harm <strong>in</strong><br />

their own communities. One <strong>in</strong>terviewee spoke to the issue <strong>of</strong> hav<strong>in</strong>g limited options for drug treatment:<br />

“What happens traditionally, at least <strong>in</strong> my understand<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> history <strong>in</strong> Baltimore, is when you<br />

put those large <strong>in</strong>stitutions <strong>in</strong> charge <strong>of</strong> stuff, the nature <strong>of</strong> those <strong>in</strong>stitutions and how they're<br />

constructed tends to be a barrier. <strong>The</strong>se <strong>in</strong>stitutions really get to be like, “Alright, you either<br />

go<strong>in</strong>g to this one, this one, this one or this one and if I don't hear from you <strong>in</strong> 30 days, I'm<br />

send<strong>in</strong>g the police after you and you gett<strong>in</strong>g locked up.” Which is like, I'm gett<strong>in</strong>g threatened..<br />

you try<strong>in</strong>g to take stuff away from me, I'm a user currently and you’re stress<strong>in</strong>g me the hell out.<br />

I'm probably go<strong>in</strong>g to use aga<strong>in</strong>, which raises my risk <strong>in</strong> between. And on top <strong>of</strong> all <strong>of</strong> this, I<br />

don't know none <strong>of</strong> them. I don't trust them, and you want me to tell them my bus<strong>in</strong>ess?! No.<br />

And then you wonder why it don't work.” (Amy)<br />

We heard over and over aga<strong>in</strong> that with a lack <strong>of</strong> Black civil society <strong>in</strong>stitutions, people were forced to<br />

choose from a list <strong>of</strong> options for drug treatment that they have no connections to and do not trust. And<br />

when people don’t want to take these options, the threat <strong>of</strong> police and <strong>in</strong>carceration is used aga<strong>in</strong>st them.<br />

Another issue is that <strong>in</strong>stitutions that are outside <strong>of</strong> the community <strong>of</strong>ten do not reflect the communities<br />

that are most impacted. As one <strong>in</strong>terviewee said:<br />

“A lot <strong>of</strong> the recovery spaces are White <strong>in</strong>stitutions. We as Black and brown people who use<br />

drugs <strong>in</strong> the city don’t always trust the medical <strong>in</strong>stitutions given the racist history. I see a lot <strong>of</strong><br />

oppression go<strong>in</strong>g on from the <strong>in</strong>stitutions and people <strong>in</strong> power. <strong>The</strong>re is gatekeep<strong>in</strong>g and<br />

tokenization <strong>of</strong> people who use drugs.” (Monica)<br />

Reasons for the disconnect between services and the community were expla<strong>in</strong>ed by a White centered<br />

medicalized approach that dom<strong>in</strong>ated over a view grounded <strong>in</strong> African-Centered values. For example,<br />

Charles recalled his experience work<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the addiction care environment over the years. He expla<strong>in</strong>ed<br />

that more and more programs focused on medication monitor<strong>in</strong>g because it was more f<strong>in</strong>ancially efficient<br />

to do so <strong>in</strong>stead <strong>of</strong> a more person-centered therapeutic approach that addressed the root causes <strong>of</strong><br />

addiction. In his words, the feel<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong> hopelessness, disconnection, and lack <strong>of</strong> acknowledgment. He<br />

recalled that nurses were be<strong>in</strong>g groomed for medication management because <strong>of</strong> the less amount <strong>of</strong> time<br />

needed to adm<strong>in</strong>ister. Before therapists and social workers were hired to sit longer with clients to figure<br />

out how to deal with the stressors <strong>in</strong> their lives and build on their ambitions. <strong>The</strong> disconnect was<br />

illustrated when he mentioned that:<br />

“A few years ago, everyth<strong>in</strong>g was about manualized treatments. <strong>The</strong>y might be developed <strong>in</strong><br />

Utah with people who are 7 foot tall and left-handed and that makes it evidence-based. And then<br />

you br<strong>in</strong>g it to Baltimore where people are short and right-handed and then try and apply<br />

there. If the program can fit around the client <strong>in</strong>stead <strong>of</strong> the client hav<strong>in</strong>g to fit with<strong>in</strong> the<br />

program, then it would be more directly applicable to the person.” (Charles)<br />

Overall, we heard that the real constellation beh<strong>in</strong>d the service ecosystem was related to the political<br />

system and its ever-chang<strong>in</strong>g priorities, which impacts susta<strong>in</strong>ability and community-grounded efforts.<br />

Charles cont<strong>in</strong>ued:<br />

“Over the past 20 and 30 years, priorities have changed with the adm<strong>in</strong>istrations and the<br />

[person-centered] programs are hard to ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong>.”<br />

30 <strong>of</strong> 55

Last, <strong>in</strong>digenous ways <strong>of</strong> heal<strong>in</strong>g are not widely accepted by traditional treatment models which leads to<br />

dis<strong>in</strong>vestment <strong>in</strong> African-Centered resources and organizations. One <strong>in</strong>terviewee expla<strong>in</strong>ed:<br />

“It comes down to not want<strong>in</strong>g to not see this community worthy <strong>of</strong> the <strong>in</strong>vestment <strong>of</strong> the<br />

approaches that are effective. <strong>The</strong>re is no value on Black life <strong>in</strong> this country, <strong>in</strong> Black<br />

community. <strong>The</strong>re are people already <strong>in</strong> the community that are able to address the root<br />

traumas <strong>of</strong> addiction and have positive ways to cope, those are just not those who run the<br />

programs. Ideally <strong>in</strong> a re<strong>in</strong>vestment model, those people would be funded to do those th<strong>in</strong>gs.”<br />

(Rashard)<br />

Examples <strong>of</strong> Erosion <strong>of</strong> Black Civil Society Institutions <strong>in</strong> Baltimore<br />

In this section, there are extended accounts from two different respondents about Black civil society<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitutions as examples <strong>of</strong> what has been lost and for a model <strong>of</strong> what African-Centered reparations could<br />

look like.<br />

Penn North Recovery Center<br />

Black civil society <strong>in</strong>stitutions have played an important role <strong>in</strong> hold<strong>in</strong>g space for African-Centered ways<br />

<strong>of</strong> heal<strong>in</strong>g. How they have been eroded is key to understand<strong>in</strong>g community harm from the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s.<br />

When drug use and addiction <strong>in</strong>creased <strong>in</strong> the 60s, there was a lack <strong>of</strong> public health and drug treatment<br />

services available. Black civil society organizations saw the need and organized to start free, communitybased<br />

holistic centers provid<strong>in</strong>g harm reduction, drug treatment, and health care services. Vice News<br />

produced a short documentary about the L<strong>in</strong>coln Detox Center <strong>in</strong> Harlem, New York which was founded<br />

by local community leaders <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g the Young Lords, the Black Panther Party, and led by Dr. Mutulu<br />

Shakur (16). <strong>The</strong> center was established as a heal<strong>in</strong>g space to address hero<strong>in</strong> addiction and was the<br />

nation’s first outpatient detoxification program to utilize methadone, acupuncture, and political education<br />

to address the oppression and brutality <strong>of</strong> the conditions that shaped drug addiction. After nearly a<br />

decade <strong>of</strong> serv<strong>in</strong>g the community, the detox center was shut down by a task force <strong>of</strong> over 200 police<br />

<strong>of</strong>ficers and taken over by government-run public health entities, remov<strong>in</strong>g community control and<br />

dismantl<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>formal and <strong>in</strong>digenous social networks <strong>of</strong> care (77).<br />

In Baltimore, Penn North Recovery Center adopted a similar model for holistic treatment <strong>in</strong> 1993 and is<br />

still <strong>in</strong> operation today with many lessons that we can learn from. As Amy recalled:<br />

“<strong>The</strong> L<strong>in</strong>coln Detox project essentially... were like, we're tak<strong>in</strong>g this stuff <strong>in</strong>to our own hands. We<br />

can't count on these systems to take care <strong>of</strong> our people. It's not happen<strong>in</strong>g, it's not work<strong>in</strong>g. And<br />

they opened up community acupuncture for anybody. [<strong>The</strong> Baltimore model] is built on that<br />

same model. It's open as many hours a day as we can have volunteers <strong>in</strong> here work<strong>in</strong>g. You can<br />

come <strong>in</strong> at any time, and we will work to get you clean. It's basic ear needles and the idea<br />

beh<strong>in</strong>d it is it's a functional nervous system k<strong>in</strong>d <strong>of</strong> calm<strong>in</strong>g as well as deals with the major<br />

organs <strong>of</strong> detoxification.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> Baltimore community cl<strong>in</strong>ic <strong>of</strong>fered free and accessible detox services, but it also served other<br />

purposes:<br />

“But most importantly, it rebuilds a community, right? It rebuilds community right where<br />

people sit and heal, and it gets you to sort the trauma that is also part and parcel <strong>of</strong> the<br />

addictions process... And so actually just even hav<strong>in</strong>g a community that was focused on that<br />

heal<strong>in</strong>g process. So, I actually th<strong>in</strong>k that that's a really core component <strong>of</strong> what happens <strong>in</strong> those<br />

heal<strong>in</strong>g spaces that is <strong>of</strong>ten really miss<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> some <strong>of</strong> the other k<strong>in</strong>ds <strong>of</strong> treatments that happen.<br />

So that is essentially the core <strong>of</strong> the model.” (Amy)<br />

<strong>The</strong> core <strong>of</strong> this Black civil society <strong>in</strong>stitution rebuild<strong>in</strong>g community to address the deep-rooted harms <strong>of</strong><br />

addiction us<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>digenous ways <strong>of</strong> heal<strong>in</strong>g that were not <strong>of</strong>fered <strong>in</strong> traditional treatment centers. <strong>The</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong>terviewee recounted how Black elders and community leaders <strong>in</strong> Baltimore stepped up to be a part <strong>of</strong><br />

this community <strong>in</strong>itiative:<br />

“<strong>The</strong>re was a man... he had had some active addictions, and had been <strong>in</strong> like gangs, and he was<br />

like, “Look. If you want me <strong>of</strong>f my hero<strong>in</strong>, you're gonna have to create a better<br />

31 <strong>of</strong> 55

friendship community, 'cause hero<strong>in</strong> is really faithful. It'll be there when<br />

everybody else disappears.” And you know you can imag<strong>in</strong>e.. this is Baltimore City <strong>in</strong> 1995.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re are already lots <strong>of</strong> people right here.. they're already be<strong>in</strong>g treated for addictions from<br />

various aspects <strong>of</strong> th<strong>in</strong>gs, but it's pretty rampant right and it's not just the time, it's also crack..<br />

and hero<strong>in</strong>, both pretty <strong>in</strong>tensively. And [he] basically said, “You know, if you want me here,<br />

then that's what it is.” And so, he would do qigong. He taught qigong and that was his th<strong>in</strong>g. It<br />

was literally a community health <strong>in</strong>itiative, and that was the core. <strong>The</strong> core focus was this is a<br />

community health <strong>in</strong>itiative. This is not someth<strong>in</strong>g imposed by county people.” (Amy)<br />

It is important to note that these efforts were not connected to a public health <strong>in</strong>itiative or a government<br />

program. <strong>The</strong> community health <strong>in</strong>itiative differs from harm reduction <strong>in</strong> that it was framed around<br />

addiction prevention <strong>in</strong>stead <strong>of</strong> overdose prevention and <strong>of</strong>fers a compell<strong>in</strong>g alternative to drug use unlike<br />

other addiction treatment programs such as 12-step that operate on notions <strong>of</strong> personal blame.<br />

Indigenous addiction service methodologies are not given space with<strong>in</strong> the exist<strong>in</strong>g addiction services<br />

ecosystem, necessitat<strong>in</strong>g a vision <strong>of</strong> reparations that creates space for <strong>in</strong>digenous <strong>in</strong>terventions to flourish.<br />

Community members at Penn North, such as the one that Amy describes below, had a great impact,<br />

provid<strong>in</strong>g resources and teach<strong>in</strong>g ways <strong>of</strong> heal<strong>in</strong>g with<strong>in</strong> their own community and hav<strong>in</strong>g ownership over<br />

it:<br />

“He was do<strong>in</strong>g more than just qigong… You know the closest th<strong>in</strong>g I could say is like, he was<br />

really act<strong>in</strong>g as a community elder, right… He'd been through the r<strong>in</strong>ger. He'd been to prison,<br />

he'd been do<strong>in</strong>g drugs, sell<strong>in</strong>g drugs, runn<strong>in</strong>g drugs-like he did the whole, he ran the whole<br />

gamut... but basically came back to Baltimore was like, “I want to be part <strong>of</strong> the heal<strong>in</strong>g process<br />

for other people too.” And so, it wasn't just that he did qigong, it was that he took it upon himself<br />

to learn some <strong>of</strong> his own ancestral heal<strong>in</strong>g k<strong>in</strong>ds <strong>of</strong> practices, and then to partner with Penn<br />

North to really be the father figure <strong>in</strong> some ways for a community that you know, was miss<strong>in</strong>g a<br />

lot <strong>of</strong> the men that like, they were taken.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> way the elder was <strong>in</strong>volved <strong>in</strong> rebuild<strong>in</strong>g community and was provid<strong>in</strong>g alternative ways <strong>of</strong> heal<strong>in</strong>g at<br />

the cl<strong>in</strong>ic is one example <strong>of</strong> how Black civil society <strong>in</strong>stitutions address community harm from mass<br />

<strong>in</strong>carceration due to drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization. <strong>The</strong> <strong>in</strong>terviewee went on to expla<strong>in</strong> how <strong>in</strong>digenous ways <strong>of</strong><br />

heal<strong>in</strong>g such as qigong and acupuncture were impactful <strong>in</strong> the heal<strong>in</strong>g process:<br />

“So, when you put <strong>in</strong> enough community support for people to do qigong every day, what do<br />

you learn about be<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> your body? You have a whole different experience <strong>of</strong> be<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> your<br />

body, you actually understand someth<strong>in</strong>g about what it feels like when th<strong>in</strong>gs feel stuck. But<br />

those are cultural th<strong>in</strong>gs that happen <strong>in</strong> social sett<strong>in</strong>gs or <strong>in</strong> work sett<strong>in</strong>gs, or <strong>in</strong> other places<br />

where people are be<strong>in</strong>g, you know, educated by each other. So, when you put a place like<br />

L<strong>in</strong>coln Detox or Penn North, and you start br<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> people who, from the community, who<br />

have knowledge <strong>of</strong> ancestral herbal medic<strong>in</strong>es, that's not someth<strong>in</strong>g that you can just replace<br />

with any modern medic<strong>in</strong>e.” (Amy)<br />

Two important po<strong>in</strong>ts were be<strong>in</strong>g made by the <strong>in</strong>terviewee regard<strong>in</strong>g the community cl<strong>in</strong>ic. One was that<br />

<strong>in</strong>digenous ways <strong>of</strong> heal<strong>in</strong>g would help people address many <strong>of</strong> their own physical ailments which<br />

threatens the economic model <strong>of</strong> modern medical systems. <strong>The</strong> second was that modern medic<strong>in</strong>e and<br />

traditional treatment centers could not <strong>of</strong>fer the wealth <strong>of</strong> knowledge, heal<strong>in</strong>g and connection that was<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g built up by community members at the cl<strong>in</strong>ic. <strong>The</strong> aspect <strong>of</strong> community that the cl<strong>in</strong>ic helped<br />

support was what made it successful as the <strong>in</strong>terviewee po<strong>in</strong>ted out:<br />

“What I will say about the orig<strong>in</strong>al practice at Penn North was that the addiction was never the<br />

center. <strong>The</strong> people are the center, and I th<strong>in</strong>k that's a core th<strong>in</strong>g. Also, because then people will<br />

say this like, ‘I feel like you see me as a whole human be<strong>in</strong>g. I'm not just like a number, I'm not<br />

just like one more case.' (Amy)<br />

As <strong>in</strong>terviewees mentioned previously, people with substance use disorders <strong>of</strong>ten experience feel<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong><br />

dehumanization, especially folks <strong>of</strong> African descent. Putt<strong>in</strong>g people at the center <strong>of</strong> the cl<strong>in</strong>ic’s mission<br />

helped them feel seen as a person and humanized them <strong>in</strong> their struggles. <strong>The</strong> positive community<br />

build<strong>in</strong>g space that was held by the cl<strong>in</strong>ic was unfortunately eroded over time by several factors. <strong>The</strong><br />

biggest issue was who had control over fund<strong>in</strong>g sources:<br />

32 <strong>of</strong> 55

“<strong>The</strong>re's no money <strong>in</strong> the community to support a network <strong>of</strong> this really work<strong>in</strong>g. And then what<br />

happens is you beg<strong>in</strong> to have the traditional addictions counsel<strong>in</strong>g become the modality for<br />

pay<strong>in</strong>g. And so now, that is still what happens mostly-is you get fund<strong>in</strong>g for the addictions<br />

counsel<strong>in</strong>g and the addictions counsel<strong>in</strong>g essentially supports an acupuncture program. Or<br />

whatever the holistic th<strong>in</strong>gs are get funded by the traditional medical models which is difficult<br />

on a number <strong>of</strong> levels, for a number <strong>of</strong> reasons... And so, then you end up without <strong>in</strong>tend<strong>in</strong>g to,<br />

the structure <strong>of</strong> a model that's supposed to be community-based heal<strong>in</strong>g, essentially the money<br />

turns <strong>in</strong>to the core <strong>of</strong> the structure. It always does. It just does. Like it or not, that's just k<strong>in</strong>d <strong>of</strong><br />

how it works.” (Amy)<br />

<strong>The</strong> issue <strong>of</strong> fund<strong>in</strong>g is that whoever provides the funds, drives the values and the direction <strong>of</strong> a program.<br />

Once the community lost control <strong>of</strong> the fund<strong>in</strong>g at the Baltimore cl<strong>in</strong>ic, the money determ<strong>in</strong>ed who got to<br />

provide what services.<br />

“It's like you sort <strong>of</strong> side step the whole medical system as best you can and you just do what you<br />

can, and you get funded to do that outside <strong>of</strong> the system. But once you're embedded with the<br />

system, you're beholden to all <strong>of</strong> those regulations. And so, it's just one <strong>of</strong> those th<strong>in</strong>gs where it's<br />

almost that it's either a community-based facility OR it's a medical-based facility. It's almost<br />

impossible to really have it be both <strong>in</strong> so many cases. I mean, and this is the l<strong>in</strong>e that Penn North<br />

has been try<strong>in</strong>g to walk for the past however many, 30 plus years now.” (Amy)<br />

Federal and non-pr<strong>of</strong>it sources <strong>of</strong> fund<strong>in</strong>g came with regulations that restricted the community-based<br />

aspect <strong>of</strong> the program, so the cl<strong>in</strong>ic did its best to f<strong>in</strong>d other fund<strong>in</strong>g sources. But there was never enough<br />

fund<strong>in</strong>g from private donors or from the community itself to be susta<strong>in</strong>able over time. <strong>The</strong> Baltimore<br />

cl<strong>in</strong>ic had to look for fund<strong>in</strong>g sources outside <strong>of</strong> the community that saw addictions counsel<strong>in</strong>g as the core<br />

<strong>of</strong> the program <strong>in</strong>stead <strong>of</strong> the holistic services that were based on <strong>in</strong>digenous and community-based<br />

methods <strong>of</strong> heal<strong>in</strong>g. This was an issue that the <strong>in</strong>terviewee saw happen<strong>in</strong>g not only to the Baltimore cl<strong>in</strong>ic<br />

but also to other Black civil society <strong>in</strong>stitutions:<br />

“One <strong>of</strong> the th<strong>in</strong>gs that I always see is with all <strong>of</strong> the non-pr<strong>of</strong>its right, is that you have<br />

essentially somebody spend<strong>in</strong>g so much time writ<strong>in</strong>g grants- basically pays their salary at the<br />

end <strong>of</strong> the day, if they're reasonably good at it. Or you have somebody who's a longtime donor,<br />

and they commit to it. But even there, right when they get scared, or when their fund<strong>in</strong>g dries<br />

up, or when someth<strong>in</strong>g happens-and I know that that happened at Penn North, maybe 6 or 7<br />

years ago, one or two <strong>of</strong> their major donors shifted priorities you know, and that can happen at<br />

the board level, or it can happen at the socio-cultural level where people are like, “Well,<br />

addictions, that isn't really our focus anymore. Now we're gonna look at trauma,” and they<br />

want to deal <strong>in</strong> the mental health side <strong>of</strong> th<strong>in</strong>gs... It's basically dependent on the ever-chang<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

and because Medicaid is state run and Medicare is federally run right, you're also sort <strong>of</strong><br />

navigat<strong>in</strong>g these two different waters, and mak<strong>in</strong>g sure you stay on top <strong>of</strong> what are all those<br />

and then the regulatory stuff.” (Amy)<br />

<strong>The</strong> complexity and <strong>in</strong>stability tied to outside fund<strong>in</strong>g sources resulted <strong>in</strong> various barriers to the cl<strong>in</strong>ic<br />

provid<strong>in</strong>g services that stayed true to its orig<strong>in</strong>al purpose. <strong>The</strong> issue was that regardless <strong>of</strong> where the<br />

fund<strong>in</strong>g came from, it would not work as long as the money was outside <strong>of</strong> the community’s control.<br />

Another issue also came up from hav<strong>in</strong>g those outside <strong>of</strong> the community <strong>in</strong>volved:<br />

“At Penn North, the model for a long time was that the school provided student practitioners<br />

where they did cl<strong>in</strong>ical hours there, and it was sort <strong>of</strong> like this cross-tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g k<strong>in</strong>d <strong>of</strong> a place.<br />

Around the death <strong>of</strong> Freddie Gray, the school pulled out. Day <strong>of</strong>, the school pulled out! <strong>The</strong>y<br />

were like we're not go<strong>in</strong>g, and I was like, “Oh, hell no! This community is <strong>in</strong> crisis; <strong>of</strong> all the<br />

times we need to have this here, it's today!” I was like fuck that, we're go<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> and so I just<br />

called up the people and we volunteered. And basically, they [the school] were like we're not<br />

sure when we're com<strong>in</strong>g back... and I was like we're not do<strong>in</strong>g that. So, for 2 years we just did a<br />

volunteer basis.” (Amy)<br />

<strong>The</strong> cl<strong>in</strong>ic depended on outside organizations to provide personnel <strong>in</strong> order to run the cl<strong>in</strong>ic and then<br />

when the community experienced crisis, they were left abandoned. This dynamic is one the <strong>in</strong>terviewee<br />

said they saw repeatedly <strong>in</strong> Baltimore. <strong>The</strong>y gave another example say<strong>in</strong>g:<br />

33 <strong>of</strong> 55

“And then actually right out <strong>of</strong> Freddie Gray what happened was all the cameras came... and<br />

people were like, “Well, what does the neighborhood need?” Alicia Keys came! And they [the<br />

community] were like, we need a safe place for our kids to go. Like literally took over the<br />

laundromat, the vacant laundromat next door, and we renovated it like, over the course <strong>of</strong> a<br />

week and a half and then the next day the kids had a safe place to go basically, and that was it.<br />

Of course, now where is it? It doesn't exist anymore. It doesn't exist anymore... Those people<br />

came <strong>in</strong> one more time and said that they cared about us, and said that they were go<strong>in</strong>g to help<br />

us, and then they disappeared aga<strong>in</strong>. Do you know what that does to people? If you talk<br />

about the history <strong>of</strong> that part <strong>of</strong> Baltimore, it's that. People who say they give a<br />

shit who come <strong>in</strong> and then disappear. I th<strong>in</strong>k that the dependency on the medical<br />

system itself is dangerous. We're gonna decrim<strong>in</strong>alize, where does the fund<strong>in</strong>g go?<br />

What actually happens with it?” [emphasis added] (Amy)<br />

<strong>The</strong> betrayal that communities have experienced leads to a dynamic <strong>of</strong> long-term loss <strong>of</strong> community buy<strong>in</strong><br />

and trust when outsiders come <strong>in</strong> with promises <strong>of</strong> programs and resources. As we consider how to<br />

move forward with drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>in</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong>, it is important to center this history.<br />

Communities are fearful that the traditional view <strong>of</strong> decrim<strong>in</strong>alization with a sole public health focus will<br />

result <strong>in</strong> the decrim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>of</strong> drugs without any accountability to the community <strong>of</strong> where the money<br />

goes.<br />

Rites <strong>of</strong> Passage<br />

Another example <strong>of</strong> a Black civil society <strong>in</strong>stitution that was able to address issues with<strong>in</strong> its own<br />

community is Rites <strong>of</strong> Passage, a community organization dat<strong>in</strong>g back to the 80s. <strong>The</strong> organization<br />

centers African-Centered pr<strong>in</strong>ciples <strong>of</strong> life-affirm<strong>in</strong>g spirituality and community self-esteem, whereby<br />

<strong>in</strong>digenous elders provide youth with mentorship. A former leader <strong>of</strong> the Rites <strong>of</strong> Passage <strong>in</strong> Baltimore<br />

recalled:<br />

“That's what Rites <strong>of</strong> Passage was about-to teach the children, the young people and their<br />

parents, a value system based upon the Nguzo Nane, the Nguzo Saba plus the seventh, the<br />

eighth pr<strong>in</strong>ciple <strong>of</strong> respect. So, build<strong>in</strong>g around the Nguzo Nane, we had an organization where<br />

adults tended to children. And it was the “it takes a village to raise a child” that was enacted.<br />

And we had a few hundred youth over the years. And we did a lot to help them and help their<br />

parents. I remember times when we would get a call from one <strong>of</strong> the youth’s parents, “I don't<br />

know where he is,” and “he didn't come home” or, you know, someth<strong>in</strong>g happened, and we have<br />

to get up and go look for him and go f<strong>in</strong>d out where they were and take them home. We had<br />

great success <strong>in</strong> terms <strong>of</strong>-because we paid pretty specific attention to children, and tried to work<br />

with them, rather than punish them... And everyth<strong>in</strong>g had to be substantiated by our purpose,<br />

which was the Nguzo Saba, the value system. <strong>The</strong> value system that is celebrated at Kwanzaa<br />

but practiced all year. And that's what was driv<strong>in</strong>g us as we put together this <strong>in</strong>tervention.”<br />

(Olusola)<br />

<strong>The</strong> Nguzo Saba Pr<strong>in</strong>ciples that the <strong>in</strong>terviewee mentions are as follows: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia<br />

(Self-Determ<strong>in</strong>ation), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia<br />

(Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). Follow<strong>in</strong>g these values, the organization was able to<br />

address some <strong>of</strong> the harms that stemmed from drugs and drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization:<br />

“In the 80s and 90s... the issues then <strong>in</strong> the community were <strong>of</strong> course the drug war and its effect<br />

on people and youth and youth violence. And that's how we got <strong>in</strong>volved with Rites <strong>of</strong> Passage<br />

but younger people, the youth that we were work<strong>in</strong>g with, were <strong>in</strong>terested <strong>in</strong> try<strong>in</strong>g to save<br />

themselves. This was at the beg<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>g, well pretty much the beg<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>g, <strong>of</strong> the murder rate<br />

bus<strong>in</strong>ess. And we started the Rites <strong>of</strong> Passage <strong>in</strong> order to provide for boys an alternative to the<br />

world <strong>of</strong> violence.” (Olusola)<br />

When parents need help guid<strong>in</strong>g their children who were struggl<strong>in</strong>g with substance use, they could look to<br />

the elders <strong>in</strong> the organization for support:<br />

“A mother could go to the leaders, and they would go and f<strong>in</strong>d her son and drag him home from<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the crack house. We need more <strong>of</strong> that <strong>in</strong> the community. <strong>The</strong> positive, not only the male<br />

[identity formation], but the positive adult assertion <strong>of</strong> community safety, and a positive<br />

community culture. If the children are not safe, the whole community is not safe.” (Olusola)<br />

34 <strong>of</strong> 55

<strong>The</strong> <strong>in</strong>terviewee talked about the history <strong>of</strong> the organization over the past 25 years and the struggles to<br />

keep it runn<strong>in</strong>g due to fund<strong>in</strong>g issues:<br />

“We weren't look<strong>in</strong>g for fund<strong>in</strong>g because we knew, they're not go<strong>in</strong>g to fund someth<strong>in</strong>g that was<br />

go<strong>in</strong>g to force them to change their weight, you know the system. Some <strong>of</strong> these kids were the<br />

children <strong>of</strong> crack parents. Basically, we became parents. We became people who they relied on.<br />

We know the methodology works and we have pro<strong>of</strong>. However, we haven’t done research<br />

studies. We haven't done the k<strong>in</strong>d <strong>of</strong> stuff that gets you political fund<strong>in</strong>g. And it's, you know, it's<br />

because how can we expect the same people who created the torture to fund our recovery.”<br />

(Olusola)<br />

<strong>The</strong> leaders <strong>of</strong> the organization decided not to pursue other fund<strong>in</strong>g streams because do<strong>in</strong>g so would<br />

require a compromise <strong>of</strong> their values. <strong>The</strong>re was trepidation <strong>in</strong> receiv<strong>in</strong>g fund<strong>in</strong>g external to the<br />

community as it imposed government regulation and removed community control:<br />

“Once you subsidize, you regulate. [emphasis added] And that's how I look at grants and<br />

go<strong>in</strong>g for government funded programs, ‘Okay, we're go<strong>in</strong>g to give you this money, but you<br />

better not do this, you better not do that, and you better do these th<strong>in</strong>gs.” So, do I want to take a<br />

subsidy from somebody who wants to regulate me when we may disagree on what the goal is?<br />

What is an authentic goal for this low-<strong>in</strong>come Black community?' (Olusola)<br />

However, this left the organization underfunded and led to limitations <strong>in</strong> its operations. Many Black civil<br />

society <strong>in</strong>stitutions have been eroded over time by these fund<strong>in</strong>g dynamics, and people are left with no<br />

civil society options to plug <strong>in</strong>to for support and a sense <strong>of</strong> community. <strong>The</strong> erosion <strong>of</strong> Black civil society<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitutions also impacts their ability to collectively address overdose and addiction outside <strong>of</strong> government<br />

and white-dom<strong>in</strong>ant service systems. <strong>The</strong> <strong>in</strong>terviewee also listed other Black civil society organizations<br />

that provided community support to <strong>in</strong>dividuals and families and were trusted resources for guidance and<br />

material assistance.<br />

Black Civil Society Institution<br />

Fruit <strong>of</strong> Islam (FOI)<br />

WombWork Productions, Inc.<br />

Mothers <strong>of</strong> Murdered Sons and Daughters<br />

United<br />

Leaders <strong>of</strong> a Beautiful Struggle<br />

I Can’t We Can<br />

I say No To<br />

Barber shops<br />

Description<br />

Military w<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the Nation <strong>of</strong> Islam<br />

Community centered cultural enterta<strong>in</strong>ment<br />

organization<br />

Support group for women who have lost children to<br />

gun violence<br />

Grassroots th<strong>in</strong>k-tank which advances the public policy<br />

<strong>in</strong>terest <strong>of</strong> Black people <strong>in</strong> Baltimore<br />

<strong>Drug</strong> addiction treatment center<br />

<strong>Drug</strong> addiction treatment center<br />

Collaborations among local barber<strong>in</strong>g organizations to<br />

open a barber school<br />

Perspectives <strong>of</strong> Decrim<strong>in</strong>alization and other <strong>Drug</strong> Policy Efforts<br />

Interviewees shared various perspectives on decrim<strong>in</strong>alization (decrim), highlight<strong>in</strong>g potential positive<br />

effects while also rais<strong>in</strong>g concerns. Three ma<strong>in</strong> perspectives on implement<strong>in</strong>g drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization<br />

arose:<br />

1. Decrim<strong>in</strong>alization will not change the larger conditions faced by communities targeted by the War<br />

on <strong>Drug</strong>s.<br />

2. Decrim<strong>in</strong>alization does not address community harms.<br />

35 <strong>of</strong> 55

3. Decrim<strong>in</strong>alization does not recognize the values that ground communities’ responses to heal and<br />

be architects <strong>of</strong> their own solutions.<br />

1. <strong>Drug</strong> decrim<strong>in</strong>alization will not change the larger conditions faced by communities<br />

targeted by the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s.<br />

Interviewees rout<strong>in</strong>ely emphasized the need for a critical perspective that acknowledges the social impacts<br />

<strong>of</strong> addiction stemm<strong>in</strong>g from underly<strong>in</strong>g conditions <strong>in</strong> Baltimore. Contemporary discourse <strong>of</strong> decrim<br />

traditionally argues that addiction should be treated as a public health problem. A public health approach<br />

may be positive, as it seeks to address the material suffer<strong>in</strong>g caused by hyper-<strong>in</strong>carceration and addiction<br />

(24,78). However, it does not challenge the underly<strong>in</strong>g assumptions beh<strong>in</strong>d these systems <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>equity and<br />

overlooks the productive capabilities <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>dividuals who use and sell drugs as a means <strong>of</strong> survival and<br />

economic empowerment (6). Interviewees consistently po<strong>in</strong>ted out that the m<strong>in</strong>or revisions made to the<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>al legal system fail to address the true nature <strong>of</strong> the problem.<br />

One <strong>in</strong>terviewee, a youth leader, expressed concern that proposed marijuana legalization would<br />

exacerbate structural conditions generated by the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s.<br />

“If you are under the age <strong>of</strong> 18, and get caught with it, it’s still a crime. And the problem is what<br />

we know is <strong>in</strong> poor communities, like Black people's communities traditionally, there's a huge<br />

and urgent need for additional streams <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>come. And there's a pretty well-documented history<br />

<strong>of</strong> kids tak<strong>in</strong>g up that type <strong>of</strong> ownership over contributions to the household space. Aga<strong>in</strong>, if you<br />

are a kid with no formal tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g, no legitimate connections to larger money or politics or<br />

anyth<strong>in</strong>g else, you have what’s around you and available and so, traditionally, sell<strong>in</strong>g a little bit<br />

<strong>of</strong> weed is most people's <strong>in</strong>troduction <strong>in</strong>to be<strong>in</strong>g able to make money… there could be potentially<br />

a bunch <strong>of</strong> kids, who while this product is legal both medically and recreationally, because they<br />

are try<strong>in</strong>g to provide for their families <strong>in</strong> the same way that these White cannabis companies<br />

are, will cont<strong>in</strong>ue to be arrested, and cont<strong>in</strong>ue to be engaged <strong>in</strong> the juvenile justice system.”<br />

Not only did <strong>in</strong>terviewees express concern about the worsen<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> conditions <strong>in</strong> a post-decrim<strong>in</strong>alized<br />

Baltimore, but were clear that a communal and comprehensive response was sorely needed:<br />

“Let's not forget about the big bus<strong>in</strong>ess <strong>of</strong> the drug trade, right? It provides opportunities for<br />

primarily young Black men who are not gonna be a part <strong>of</strong> the so-called primary labor market.<br />

It gives them an opportunity to make money right, but it also obviously places them at risk to be<br />

<strong>in</strong>carcerated and murdered. So, this is k<strong>in</strong>d <strong>of</strong> a grand scheme. Like autopilot s<strong>in</strong>ce slavery, to<br />

cont<strong>in</strong>ue as a society to racially control certa<strong>in</strong> groups, and to essentially keep them subjugated<br />

and oppressed. Because ultimately...people don't want to give up their power and privilege.”<br />

(Jay)<br />

“<strong>The</strong> opportunities that vulnerable people have <strong>in</strong> the streets to make money is a way to also<br />

keep them cool and calm. But you take that opportunity to make money <strong>in</strong> the streets then<br />

people are go<strong>in</strong>g to become more desperate and if you don't have the services and the<br />

opportunities there, to rebuild and help the people, they will become more desperate, and they<br />

are not go<strong>in</strong>g to suffer peacefully. <strong>The</strong>y’re go<strong>in</strong>g to turn that anger <strong>in</strong>ward and outward, and I<br />

would say there would be more crime on the street. Now I’m not justify<strong>in</strong>g the sale <strong>of</strong> drugs <strong>in</strong><br />

any k<strong>in</strong>d <strong>of</strong> way... Tak<strong>in</strong>g the opportunity away from the streets, what money can you get? A<br />

group can become desperate. We need to th<strong>in</strong>k about this collectively.” (Jay)<br />

M<strong>in</strong>or amendments proposed by the current decrim<strong>in</strong>alization effort, such as re-conceptualiz<strong>in</strong>g levels <strong>of</strong><br />

thresholds <strong>of</strong> drug possession, may not address the issue <strong>in</strong> the eyes <strong>of</strong> communities that have<br />

experienced the devastat<strong>in</strong>g effects <strong>of</strong> crim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>of</strong> drug possession. Interviewees expressed<br />

concerns that current decrim proposals do not resonate with the communities faced with high levels <strong>of</strong><br />

drugs on the street. In the absence <strong>of</strong> politically tangible solutions for community stabilization, some<br />

community members may f<strong>in</strong>d it easier to reconcile with the crim<strong>in</strong>al system <strong>of</strong> drug courts out <strong>of</strong> fear <strong>of</strong><br />

drug-related violence. So, <strong>in</strong>terviewees that raised such concerns warned about the fear <strong>of</strong> repackag<strong>in</strong>g<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>al reforms <strong>in</strong>to other forms <strong>of</strong> social oppression. For example, the <strong>in</strong>terviewee below shared<br />

apprehension <strong>of</strong> how the current approach will be received if they do not address structural conditions <strong>of</strong><br />

drugs, crime, and polic<strong>in</strong>g:<br />

36 <strong>of</strong> 55

“Grandmothers are the super voters <strong>in</strong> Baltimore City <strong>in</strong> the last few elections. So, those are the<br />

votes you know are gonna happen. Those people are the people that legislators listen to<br />

because those are the people who they need outside <strong>of</strong> their donors. And then that grandmother<br />

is like, I want them drugs <strong>of</strong>f the corner cause my, my son or my whomever was impacted <strong>in</strong><br />

whatever way. And traditionally, systems <strong>of</strong> White supremacy and anti-Blackness operate,<br />

when Black people say that they need help what the answer is, is police.” (Milton)<br />

Decrim<strong>in</strong>alization fails to address community harms.<br />

Interviewees expressed the need for drug policy to address the community context. Current decrim efforts<br />

draw on an outlook that places blame on those who use drugs and the communities faced with high levels<br />

<strong>of</strong> drug use. Interviewees felt that the current decrim debate rarely recognizes the systems <strong>of</strong> power that<br />

ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong> the status quo and h<strong>in</strong>ders community repair from the drug war. For example, one <strong>in</strong>terviewee<br />

recalled his own experience liv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> Baltimore:<br />

“It’s tough for me because I live <strong>in</strong> a community, and I have a child and I don’t th<strong>in</strong>k that<br />

everyone should just be out here sell<strong>in</strong>g drugs. I’m not anti-crim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>of</strong> substances, but we<br />

can't crim<strong>in</strong>alize and not improve the conditions that facilitate crim<strong>in</strong>ality at the same time. It<br />

places the blame on people, usually people <strong>of</strong> color, people who are poor, people who have less<br />

education. It doesn’t fall on the powers that be and the people with money.” (Calv<strong>in</strong>)<br />

Additionally, <strong>in</strong>terviewees criticized decrim proposals as either miss<strong>in</strong>g or antithetical to community<br />

values. Proposed decrim solutions do not reckon with the communal harms <strong>of</strong> cultural and spiritual<br />

alienation <strong>in</strong> the heal<strong>in</strong>g and restoration <strong>in</strong> the face <strong>of</strong> addiction and the impacts <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization.<br />

For example, a component <strong>of</strong> decrim policy advocates for <strong>in</strong>creased access to drug treatment programs. In<br />

Baltimore, most treatment programs are external to African-Centered values and culture. Although these<br />

programs are helpful for some, one <strong>in</strong>terviewee expla<strong>in</strong>ed that the 12-step program is steeped <strong>in</strong> guid<strong>in</strong>g<br />

and sham<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>dividuals to accountability and break<strong>in</strong>g away from their community, which is at odds with<br />

African-Centered values <strong>of</strong> communal support and empowerment. Another <strong>in</strong>terviewee, a mental health<br />

provider <strong>in</strong> Baltimore, who grounds practice <strong>in</strong> African-Centered values, emphasized the need for Black<br />

civil society <strong>in</strong>stitutions when develop<strong>in</strong>g heal<strong>in</strong>g supports for drug addiction and develop<strong>in</strong>g drug policy<br />

solutions <strong>in</strong> general:<br />

“In my work as a mental health provider, it is about reconnect<strong>in</strong>g to ancestral connection and<br />

veneration around who our people are. It is about po<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g out where Eurocentric or<br />

whitewashed or White supremacist ideals have been embedded with<strong>in</strong> us. For example, African-<br />

American folks not want<strong>in</strong>g to be Black, or seek<strong>in</strong>g to have proximity to whiteness. So, if we're<br />

th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g about this, how I might support a person that maybe is struggl<strong>in</strong>g with addiction or<br />

navigat<strong>in</strong>g systems, I would first def<strong>in</strong>e community from an African-Centered perspective that<br />

is not reliant on white ma<strong>in</strong>stream <strong>in</strong>stitutions and is not led by or ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g any level <strong>of</strong><br />

power over them.” (Donna)<br />

Decrim<strong>in</strong>alization fails communities to be architects <strong>of</strong> their own solutions.<br />

<strong>The</strong> current decrim approach fails to shift power to the communities that have been shredded by drug<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>alization. Access to exist<strong>in</strong>g treatment services, as a component <strong>of</strong> decrim reform, is at risk for<br />

exacerbat<strong>in</strong>g community harms. In one way, this looks like ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g the lack <strong>of</strong> community control<br />

over solutions to drugs and the crim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>of</strong> them:<br />

“Let's say my uncle gets locked up for possession because he had some dope on him. Let's say he<br />

did get a court date and he went before a judge, and the judge said, ‘Alright, you either got to do<br />

90 days or go to a drug treatment program.” It’s go<strong>in</strong>g to be like this list <strong>of</strong> pre-approved<br />

vendors that you got to go through...you don't know who works for who and what’s go<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

work. Even though everybody's auntie and grandmother can cook, nobody's ever afforded the<br />

ability to go cook <strong>in</strong> the school kitchen because there's a set <strong>of</strong> providers that we decided that we<br />

go<strong>in</strong>g to go with. Because usually aga<strong>in</strong>, systems <strong>of</strong> White supremacy and anti-<br />

Blackness don't allow the thought that Black people can be the architects <strong>of</strong> their<br />

own solutions.’ (Milton)<br />

Given the history and context <strong>in</strong> Baltimore, <strong>in</strong>terviewees described how reforms have historically fallen<br />

short when Black civil society does not lead the way, one <strong>in</strong>terviewer stated:<br />

37 <strong>of</strong> 55

“It’s the values that people have that lead to policies and a stable community. And so, if you<br />

don't have any <strong>in</strong>stitutions, if you don't have any people who are out there to advocate for prosocial,<br />

pro-Black community values, then [decrim] is not go<strong>in</strong>g to happen.” (Olusola)<br />

Public health advocacy is champion<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>novative harm reduction solutions, such as safe consumption<br />

sites with<strong>in</strong> exist<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>stitutions, while forgo<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>vestments <strong>in</strong>to the <strong>in</strong>stitutional <strong>in</strong>frastructure <strong>of</strong> Black<br />

communities to lead their own efforts. One harm reduction advocate dreaded that life-sav<strong>in</strong>g harm<br />

reduction <strong>in</strong>terventions be<strong>in</strong>g advocated for <strong>in</strong> Baltimore will cont<strong>in</strong>ue to be led by White-dom<strong>in</strong>ant<br />

service providers outside <strong>of</strong> Black control. Given these current realities, I felt the implications <strong>of</strong> power<br />

will affect the success <strong>of</strong> the harm reduction and addiction care.<br />

Overall, <strong>in</strong>terviewees opposed <strong>in</strong>creased polic<strong>in</strong>g and were also generally apprehensive around current<br />

decrim<strong>in</strong>alization proposals. <strong>The</strong> psychospiritual pa<strong>in</strong> from poverty, drugs, lack <strong>of</strong> material, social and<br />

employment aspirations, opportunities for menial jobs <strong>in</strong> favor <strong>of</strong> drug deal<strong>in</strong>g, breakdown <strong>of</strong> families<br />

and social networks, and frustrations related to racial discrim<strong>in</strong>ation, set the scene for their policy<br />

recommendation.<br />

Conclusion<br />

Our recommendations for policy and practice are based on what we learned from the community leaders<br />

we <strong>in</strong>terviewed, the literature mapped by the scop<strong>in</strong>g review process, and lessons the community-based<br />

researcher learned from policy advocacy. <strong>The</strong> core <strong>of</strong> the communities’ concerns centered around how<br />

drugs have led to violence and what that means to the decrim<strong>in</strong>alization movement. Now there is an<br />

entire generation <strong>of</strong> people who have grown up surviv<strong>in</strong>g by sell<strong>in</strong>g drugs, creat<strong>in</strong>g an environment <strong>of</strong><br />

violence and crim<strong>in</strong>alization. Given that the drug war fueled these conditions, recommendations are as<br />

followed:<br />

1. Require reparations that repair the community harms <strong>of</strong> the war on drugs<br />

2. Ensure decrim reforms are community-led<br />

3. Decrim<strong>in</strong>alization reforms must be made with acknowledgement that <strong>in</strong>terventions do not exist <strong>in</strong><br />

a vacuum and a critical race lens must be applied<br />

1. Require reparations that repair the community harms <strong>of</strong> the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s<br />

Reparations needed must be grounded <strong>in</strong> community control, economic re<strong>in</strong>vestments, and an African-<br />

Centered ethos. <strong>The</strong> most consistent recommendation elevated by the <strong>in</strong>terviewees and affirmed by the<br />

community harms <strong>of</strong> the drug war is to <strong>in</strong>vest <strong>in</strong> restor<strong>in</strong>g the communal <strong>in</strong>frastructure that has been<br />

broken down by drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization for generations.<br />

Examples <strong>of</strong> repair to the communal systems <strong>of</strong> collective care and responsibility consistently po<strong>in</strong>ted to<br />

black bus<strong>in</strong>ess <strong>in</strong>vestments for economic development, for example:<br />

“Reallocate money. Put it beh<strong>in</strong>d local bus<strong>in</strong>esses, especially local bus<strong>in</strong>esses that have a holistic<br />

k<strong>in</strong>d <strong>of</strong> a bend. How does the money stay <strong>in</strong> the community? Local bus<strong>in</strong>esses that create<br />

ecosystems, right? So that's food, and hous<strong>in</strong>g. It's a holistic treatment.” (Amy)<br />

A harm reduction activist stated,<br />

“Reparations go<strong>in</strong>g directly to Black and brown people and not <strong>in</strong>to big organizations and then<br />

funneled back <strong>in</strong>to the community is really important. <strong>The</strong> funds get lost after funneled <strong>in</strong>to the<br />

community. Participants are not <strong>in</strong>volved <strong>in</strong> major decision-mak<strong>in</strong>g. I want us to <strong>in</strong>vest <strong>in</strong> Black<br />

and brown bus<strong>in</strong>esses and harm reduction organizations and beef up our communities with<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs for people to do other than do drugs-like neighborhoods to be well-rounded, with parks,<br />

and no food deserts.” (Monica)<br />

Investments must be rooted <strong>in</strong> cultural values that acknowledge the talents, social systems, and<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitutions already <strong>in</strong> the Black community. To restore communal bonds, this looks like <strong>in</strong>vestments <strong>in</strong>to<br />

the material, psychospiritual and physical well-be<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> impacted communities.<br />

38 <strong>of</strong> 55

“<strong>The</strong> African-Centered approach would not only focus on the significance <strong>of</strong> externalized<br />

oppression, what happens outside <strong>of</strong> us (hous<strong>in</strong>g, discrim<strong>in</strong>ation, hyper <strong>in</strong>carceration) but also<br />

how people <strong>in</strong>ternalize oppression (shame, stigma). If there was no material [external]<br />

oppression, there would be no <strong>in</strong>ternal. If oppressed groups start to <strong>in</strong>ternalize the vilification<br />

and the shame, then people cannot realize their vast potential, but turn on other African-<br />

Americans and cannot work together.” (Jay)<br />

Interviewees also consistently uplifted the need to re<strong>in</strong>vest <strong>in</strong>to communities to restore the person<br />

affirm<strong>in</strong>g work <strong>of</strong> spiritual development:<br />

“Decrim<strong>in</strong>alization would be easier, if we had more voices <strong>of</strong> folks that had some critical<br />

consciousness experience where they had the ability to see themselves <strong>in</strong> their own life, see it,<br />

alongside what's happen<strong>in</strong>g politically, and then beg<strong>in</strong> to advocate and be supported by<br />

community, so that they could be <strong>in</strong> the face <strong>of</strong>, and be supported collectively, and transform<strong>in</strong>g<br />

everyth<strong>in</strong>g that we th<strong>in</strong>k about when we th<strong>in</strong>k about why people use drugs. <strong>The</strong>y use drugs<br />

because they are try<strong>in</strong>g to connect to spirit or are <strong>in</strong> deep, deep, pa<strong>in</strong> and try<strong>in</strong>g to numb that<br />

pa<strong>in</strong>. How can we create a space where everyone feels like they don’t have to escape through a<br />

substance to heal their pa<strong>in</strong>?<br />

<strong>The</strong> programs <strong>of</strong> the future <strong>in</strong> my m<strong>in</strong>d hopefully will be funded better, but also will take that<br />

fund<strong>in</strong>g and beg<strong>in</strong> to see the importance <strong>of</strong> an <strong>in</strong>tegral heal<strong>in</strong>g where we touch on all the<br />

available areas <strong>of</strong> a person's development, which is <strong>in</strong>side us, as <strong>in</strong>dividuals, our psychospiritual<br />

selves, <strong>in</strong>side <strong>of</strong> us as groups, this is our culture, the outside <strong>of</strong> us as <strong>in</strong>dividuals, which is our<br />

bodies, and the outside <strong>of</strong> all <strong>of</strong> us, which is our society and our social systems.” (Calv<strong>in</strong>)<br />

And they cont<strong>in</strong>ued by provid<strong>in</strong>g an understand<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> how to do this, which consistently po<strong>in</strong>ted out a<br />

vision <strong>of</strong> African-Centered reparations from other <strong>in</strong>terviewees:<br />

“Build Black <strong>in</strong>stitutions that Black people have control over, resources that are <strong>in</strong> control by<br />

Black people <strong>in</strong> their own communities. We need a comprehensive approach that really takes<br />

<strong>in</strong>to account the whole person that is also affirm<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the self.” (Rashard)<br />

Interviewee highlighted the importance <strong>of</strong> political awareness with<strong>in</strong> the practice <strong>of</strong> heal<strong>in</strong>g:<br />

“When we're work<strong>in</strong>g from an African-Centered and liberatory perspective, it means help<strong>in</strong>g<br />

folks to have the eyes to see and then have a therapist to help them work through it. When we<br />

qualify mental health practitioners that work with folks struggl<strong>in</strong>g with addiction, it shouldn't<br />

just be so that if they're <strong>in</strong> a methadone program, they can get methadone and then discharged.<br />

Discharge isn't just when they've been clean for however long the discharge is, when they also<br />

have the eyes to th<strong>in</strong>k about how society should, change how to do th<strong>in</strong>gs from a political<br />

awareness.” (Donna)<br />

Another example <strong>of</strong> re<strong>in</strong>vest<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>to Black civil society <strong>in</strong>stitutions that nurture spiritual care and cultural<br />

affirmation are Black churches <strong>in</strong> Baltimore:<br />

“Another <strong>in</strong>digenous way, and we need to use more <strong>of</strong> this, a major <strong>in</strong>stitution <strong>in</strong> the Black<br />

community, is the Black church. We need to use more churches as sites for <strong>in</strong>tervention and<br />

assistance. Conceptualize spirituality as the vehicle through which Black transformation has<br />

occurred. It was through spirituality that Black people were able to help ourselves historically;<br />

to fight aga<strong>in</strong>st racial oppression and discrim<strong>in</strong>ation through the advancement <strong>of</strong> protest. This<br />

was also known as race work. Race work was imbued by spirituality. I would strongly<br />

encourage any treatment model that's go<strong>in</strong>g to consistently help African-Americans to rely on<br />

the church base. Positive transformation <strong>in</strong> the Black community has been through the church,<br />

so you’re not us<strong>in</strong>g everyth<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> your arsenal if you’re not us<strong>in</strong>g the church. Churches across<br />

the nation have mental health and substance use services. <strong>The</strong>se services <strong>in</strong>tegrate Eurocentric<br />

and African-Centered flavor, around spirituality and collective responsibility. A component <strong>of</strong><br />

the treatment model is demonstrat<strong>in</strong>g how the <strong>in</strong>dividual African-American particular life can<br />

be used, not to just advance oneself, but to help to advance the broader collective African-<br />

American community-to advance the race.” (Jay)<br />

39 <strong>of</strong> 55

A local pastor family <strong>in</strong>terviewed recalled service <strong>in</strong> the church, provid<strong>in</strong>g care for those struggl<strong>in</strong>g with<br />

addictions:<br />

“My husband started the chapter for NA to come <strong>in</strong>to the church. We partnered with various<br />

drug treatment services and a veteran's organization. We had a bus where we would pick<br />

people up. We had a staff <strong>of</strong> about 20-35 people and some <strong>of</strong> them were delivered from drugs,<br />

lived through it, and came up to help. I had a lot <strong>of</strong> help–young people and mothers cook<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re was a lot <strong>of</strong> support <strong>in</strong> that. Most <strong>of</strong> our f<strong>in</strong>ances were through donations.” (Agnes)<br />

Restoration <strong>of</strong> community <strong>in</strong> the wake <strong>of</strong> policy reform must be considerate <strong>of</strong> the flow <strong>of</strong> fund<strong>in</strong>g<br />

streams. In the development <strong>of</strong> drug policies, such as decrim, there will be several streams <strong>of</strong> revenue<br />

generation to advocate for. Traditionally, fund<strong>in</strong>g from policy is sanctioned <strong>in</strong>to pre-exist<strong>in</strong>g public health<br />

<strong>in</strong>frastructure. Policy development must explicitly ensure funds go directly to support impacted<br />

communities. New and major sources <strong>of</strong> fund<strong>in</strong>g are becom<strong>in</strong>g available through cannabis regulatory<br />

state taxes and the opioid settlement funds. If drug policy efforts are serious about repair<strong>in</strong>g the harm<br />

from the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s, earmark<strong>in</strong>g all revenue sources for community reparations is essential.<br />

2. Ensure decrim reforms are community-led<br />

Interviewees laid out mechanisms for restor<strong>in</strong>g community. One, center Black civil society support<br />

systems <strong>in</strong>to policy development and ownership over community responses to harm reduction and<br />

addiction care. One <strong>in</strong>terviewee explicitly advised to:<br />

“… write out or exclude large White <strong>in</strong>stitutions. Oftentimes police are gridlocked <strong>in</strong>to work<strong>in</strong>g<br />

with state <strong>in</strong>stitutions to enact or <strong>in</strong>form th<strong>in</strong>gs, we need to figure out a work around <strong>in</strong> order to<br />

ensure that it can actually be led by the grassroots and Black folks.” (Donna)<br />

<strong>Drug</strong> policy is miss<strong>in</strong>g organic expertise around the prevention <strong>of</strong> addiction. Community leaders, such as<br />

youth mentors and pastors have grassroots experience work<strong>in</strong>g to heal community harms brought on by<br />

generations <strong>of</strong> addiction and crim<strong>in</strong>alization. Although there are dedicated voices <strong>in</strong> the conversation <strong>in</strong><br />

the community, they are left out <strong>of</strong> drug policy development circles. One <strong>in</strong>terviewee <strong>in</strong> harm reduction<br />

dreamed <strong>of</strong> a <strong>Maryland</strong> where community was at the core <strong>of</strong> harm reduction services, stat<strong>in</strong>g:<br />

“I would love for the participants to own them and run them, but I feel like that's never go<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

happen. White people from Johns Hopk<strong>in</strong>s are go<strong>in</strong>g to own and run them. But my hope is that<br />

we will start mentor<strong>in</strong>g people with<strong>in</strong> the community to take over the executive director<br />

positions and community organiz<strong>in</strong>g positions. <strong>The</strong>re is a separation between us and the people<br />

most affected.” (Monica)<br />

Not only did we hear this from the <strong>in</strong>terviewees, but also the scop<strong>in</strong>g review <strong>of</strong> the academic literature<br />

bore witness to this. When exam<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g the literature on communal harms <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization, there<br />

were no research papers on the dynamics <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization and Black civil society. Not to mention,<br />

only three articles were <strong>in</strong>formed by people impacted by drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization.<br />

“<strong>The</strong>re should be criteria for develop<strong>in</strong>g work groups or people who sit <strong>in</strong> decision mak<strong>in</strong>g<br />

spaces for decrim stuff, would br<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> that perspective <strong>of</strong> where people who are most impacted<br />

are com<strong>in</strong>g from.” (Milton)<br />

<strong>The</strong> story <strong>of</strong> Alicia Keys com<strong>in</strong>g and mak<strong>in</strong>g a big fanfare about there be<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>vestment <strong>in</strong> community and<br />

then after she left, the community conditions stay<strong>in</strong>g the same, speaks to the urgency for community<br />

control. When the dom<strong>in</strong>ant system is based upon views <strong>of</strong> the Black community as essentially deficient<br />

and void <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>digenous responses, all <strong>in</strong>vestment is considered <strong>in</strong>herently good because it assumes it is<br />

better than noth<strong>in</strong>g. We heard arguments about how political organizations and nonpr<strong>of</strong>it networks<br />

become empowered to act and speak on behalf <strong>of</strong> Black civil society. Designated with legitimacy to<br />

address key issues, “established anchor” <strong>in</strong>stitutions have the political, economic, and built <strong>in</strong>frastructure<br />

to suck up resources. One quote that stood out about drug courts demonstrates the danger <strong>of</strong> build<strong>in</strong>g<br />

political <strong>in</strong>frastructure that is not owned and controlled by community:<br />

“I've seen it first-hand how th<strong>in</strong>gs like drug court programs, whose job it is to provide an<br />

alternative form <strong>of</strong> punishment, rehabilitation to clients, but whose money is driven by grants.<br />

<strong>The</strong>ir <strong>in</strong>centive aga<strong>in</strong> is money, which means they need a constant <strong>in</strong>flux <strong>of</strong> people com<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>to<br />

40 <strong>of</strong> 55

drug court. <strong>The</strong>y have to graduate from drug court, which means usually you have to graduate<br />

from the program, but primarily the <strong>in</strong>centive is not the person's improvement, it's how do we<br />

keep our jobs at the court-the prosecutor, the judge. I’ve seen it first-hand, <strong>in</strong>ternally the<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>ality <strong>of</strong> the system itself. People are buy<strong>in</strong>g and sell<strong>in</strong>g clients to each other, literally seen<br />

trad<strong>in</strong>g clients among court <strong>of</strong>ficials work<strong>in</strong>g together to make sure that only certa<strong>in</strong> programs<br />

receive clients because they are affiliated with one program and then funnel clients from that<br />

program to get clients only from them. In some way shape or form there's some way that the<br />

court system, the drug court system, <strong>in</strong>advertently ends up harm<strong>in</strong>g people that results <strong>in</strong><br />

higher rates <strong>of</strong> drug use <strong>in</strong>stead <strong>of</strong> lower rates <strong>of</strong> drug use.” (Calv<strong>in</strong>)<br />

<strong>The</strong> lessons learned from this research presents a unique opportunity to re-<strong>in</strong>terrogate the assumptive<br />

logic <strong>of</strong> the barg<strong>in</strong>g that is be<strong>in</strong>g made <strong>in</strong> drug policy circles and harm reduction spaces. In order to rescue<br />

critical ventures like Overdose Prevention Sites from decades <strong>of</strong> underfund<strong>in</strong>g, the core <strong>of</strong> how the<br />

community experiences harm reduction is tied to the political and economic <strong>in</strong>stitutions that facilitate<br />

and exacerbate mistreatment, gentrification, and other forms <strong>of</strong> social control.<br />

Grandpre himself raises concerns about the dangers <strong>of</strong> non-community <strong>in</strong>stitutions hav<strong>in</strong>g control <strong>of</strong><br />

resources <strong>in</strong> a piece about the Nehemiah project <strong>in</strong> Baltimore (76). Non-community <strong>in</strong>stitutions measure<br />

<strong>in</strong>vestment with tangible outcomes while what the community values is less tangible, lead<strong>in</strong>g to a<br />

disconnect <strong>in</strong> what is seen as good <strong>in</strong>vestment:<br />

“I talked to the lead fixer for the Nehemiah project… He was candid, he said: 'Look, I work for<br />

foundation and these are people with a lot <strong>of</strong> money they are used to <strong>in</strong>vest<strong>in</strong>g it <strong>in</strong> a certa<strong>in</strong><br />

way. And what they are look<strong>in</strong>g for is what we call deliverables.’ In other words, they want<br />

someth<strong>in</strong>g physical so they can say ‘we brought this build<strong>in</strong>g.’ <strong>The</strong>y can’t say ‘we brought a<br />

better relationship between John and his wife.’ <strong>The</strong>y can’t say “we brought a better experience <strong>in</strong><br />

school” unless they can trace him <strong>in</strong> every grade and his grades were higher. That was too s<strong>of</strong>t<br />

<strong>of</strong> them. <strong>The</strong>y were look<strong>in</strong>g for clear, physical evidence, i.e., ‘put up a build<strong>in</strong>g (76).'<br />

3. Decrim<strong>in</strong>alization reforms must be made with acknowledgement that <strong>in</strong>terventions do<br />

not exist <strong>in</strong> a vacuum, therefore, a critical race lens must be applied<br />

Last, mechanisms <strong>of</strong> drug treatment <strong>in</strong>vestments through crim<strong>in</strong>al justice diversion <strong>of</strong> decrim must<br />

counter anti-Black treatment systems already <strong>in</strong> place. Removal <strong>of</strong> crim<strong>in</strong>al sanctions, such as diversion<br />

from arrest, does not necessarily remove police presence and other forms <strong>of</strong> social control <strong>in</strong> communities<br />

grappl<strong>in</strong>g with high levels <strong>of</strong> drugs. Decrim<strong>in</strong>alization, such as shift<strong>in</strong>g levels <strong>of</strong> drug thresholds, may<br />

susta<strong>in</strong> disparate racialized enforcement and may also shift the crim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>of</strong> low-thresholds <strong>of</strong> drug<br />

use <strong>in</strong>to other forms given the <strong>in</strong>herent anti-Black systems already <strong>in</strong> place. For example, <strong>in</strong> one<br />

predom<strong>in</strong>antly Black county <strong>in</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong>, Kozlowski and colleagues found that after a policy shift<strong>in</strong>g<br />

misdemeanor marijuana possession from a crim<strong>in</strong>al arrest to a citation went <strong>in</strong>to effect, enforcement<br />

activity for marijuana arrests did not decl<strong>in</strong>e; <strong>in</strong> fact, other misdemeanor arrests replaced marijuana<br />

arrests (5). Shift<strong>in</strong>g focus to solely drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization policy efforts <strong>of</strong> low-level drug possession<br />

diverts attention from the contextual conditions <strong>of</strong> the polic<strong>in</strong>g apparatus <strong>in</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong>.<br />

Given the conversations <strong>of</strong> policy harassment and brutality, there is a concern that even if small quantities<br />

<strong>of</strong> drugs are decrim<strong>in</strong>alized, police may have flexibility <strong>in</strong> report<strong>in</strong>g to round amounts up to possession<br />

with <strong>in</strong>tent to distribute, overcharg<strong>in</strong>g with factors like resist<strong>in</strong>g arrest or assault<strong>in</strong>g an <strong>of</strong>ficer, or even<br />

plant<strong>in</strong>g weapons to create additional violent charges. Decrim needs to directly engage police reform to<br />

deal with this dynamic.<br />

We heard the stories <strong>of</strong> police harassment, such as steal<strong>in</strong>g drugs <strong>in</strong> order to resell them. Whether<br />

Baltimore polic<strong>in</strong>g is a result <strong>of</strong> the f<strong>in</strong>ancial ga<strong>in</strong> <strong>of</strong> direct sale <strong>of</strong> drugs by police, or by police benefitt<strong>in</strong>g<br />

from the <strong>in</strong>creased budgetary support that the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s provides, police have an <strong>in</strong>centive to create<br />

panic around drug use to justify their position (32). <strong>The</strong>re was very little analysis <strong>in</strong> the decrim literature<br />

that engaged with notions <strong>of</strong> police actively promot<strong>in</strong>g drug use <strong>in</strong> the Black community for their own<br />

benefit, as supported by the work <strong>of</strong> Gary Webb, that crack coca<strong>in</strong>e was <strong>in</strong>tentionally sold to black<br />

communities to create a pipel<strong>in</strong>e <strong>of</strong> cash to fund <strong>of</strong>f the books CIA work <strong>in</strong> Lat<strong>in</strong> America or to destabilize<br />

the Black community (7). <strong>The</strong> role <strong>of</strong> see<strong>in</strong>g drug use promoted by <strong>of</strong>ficials implicates communities' ability<br />

to trust that <strong>in</strong>terventions <strong>of</strong>fered, like decrim<strong>in</strong>alization and other harm reduction efforts, such as<br />

overdose prevention sites.<br />

41 <strong>of</strong> 55

Policymakers and researchers <strong>in</strong>terested <strong>in</strong> productive and emancipatory research must challenge the<br />

simplistic notion that Portugal represents a “best practice” <strong>in</strong> drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization. <strong>The</strong>re must be<br />

<strong>in</strong>terrogation <strong>of</strong> the social construction <strong>of</strong> knowledge that does not only disrupt prevail<strong>in</strong>g notions <strong>of</strong><br />

decrim but is also void <strong>of</strong> research-related biases. For example, there needs to be more awareness to<br />

challenge police authority with<strong>in</strong> drug policy implementation <strong>of</strong> social control. In Baltimore, analysis <strong>of</strong><br />

drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization should <strong>in</strong>clude analysis <strong>of</strong> civilian oversight <strong>in</strong>stitutions, <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g the limitations<br />

<strong>of</strong> their oversight capacities because <strong>of</strong> legal obstacles such as the <strong>Maryland</strong> Law Enforcement Officer’s<br />

Bill <strong>of</strong> Rights.<br />

In conclusion:<br />

Interviewee recommendations made it clear that we must <strong>in</strong>corporate community perspectives <strong>in</strong>to drug<br />

policy solutions. Interviewees also emphasized the need to <strong>in</strong>vest <strong>in</strong> Black Civil Society <strong>in</strong>stitutions that<br />

have been deeply disrupted by drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization. <strong>The</strong>se are complex issues, and the solutions are<br />

complex. We learned that a few edits to the system are unlikely to produce the <strong>in</strong>tended impacts <strong>of</strong> a sole<br />

public health approach. Decrim policy must be grounded <strong>in</strong> promot<strong>in</strong>g the peace that was undone largely<br />

by the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s. <strong>The</strong> work toward reparations that repairs the harm should be rooted <strong>in</strong> community,<br />

led by the community, and for the community.<br />

Recommendations for Policy Advocates<br />

<strong>The</strong> co-author, Lawrence Grandpre, born and raised <strong>in</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong>, has worked extensively over the past 8<br />

years <strong>in</strong> the state capital <strong>of</strong> Annapolis on a variety <strong>of</strong> legislative issues rang<strong>in</strong>g from bail reform, police<br />

accountability to cannabis reform. This report set out to create resources to help advocates push for drug<br />

decrim<strong>in</strong>alization. Based upon the f<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong> this report, and the co-author’s experience with legislative<br />

advocacy, a list <strong>of</strong> recommendations has been created to provide concrete takeaways for those seek<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

advocate for policy change <strong>in</strong> the state <strong>of</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong>.<br />

<strong>The</strong>se recommendations are presented with the <strong>in</strong>tent <strong>of</strong> start<strong>in</strong>g a conversation around bridg<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

space between the sorts <strong>of</strong> people participat<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> this study, represent<strong>in</strong>g Black civil society members<br />

who have worked to restore the civic capacity <strong>of</strong> the Black community to operationalize self-governance,<br />

and with <strong>in</strong>stitutions and communities work<strong>in</strong>g on drug policy who <strong>of</strong>ten do not engage these perspectives<br />

and understand the concerns these communities have. <strong>The</strong> goal is for reth<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g and reconceptualiz<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the work.<br />

A full <strong>in</strong>terrogation <strong>of</strong> the f<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong> this document is beyond the scope <strong>of</strong> this paper, but this paper felt<br />

<strong>in</strong>complete without <strong>in</strong>clusion <strong>of</strong> these 4 central observations.<br />

1. To Overcome “Crim<strong>in</strong>al Justice Reform Fatigue,” Focus on Community Investment<br />

In our work push<strong>in</strong>g cannabis reform <strong>in</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong>, we at Leaders <strong>of</strong> a Beautiful Struggle have been<br />

surprised that some <strong>of</strong> the lawmakers who <strong>in</strong> the past had expressed support for drug policy reform<br />

seemed unenthusiastic around cannabis legalization. Some discussed pass crim<strong>in</strong>al justice reform efforts<br />

fail<strong>in</strong>g to provide them with the resources they need to fundamentally change conditions <strong>in</strong> their districts.<br />

Recall<strong>in</strong>g that the “progressive” nature <strong>of</strong> these bills are used to justify not do<strong>in</strong>g redistributive policy by<br />

those <strong>in</strong> Democratic Party leadership, essentially allow<strong>in</strong>g them to say, “we already did our social justice<br />

th<strong>in</strong>g.” If social justice policy is treated as a box to check <strong>of</strong>f, then some lawmakers have stated they would<br />

rather save their political capital for policy which they felt has more transformative impact on their<br />

communities, like community economic development policy.<br />

This dynamic, which I have dubbed “crim<strong>in</strong>al justice reform fatigue,” is echoed by <strong>in</strong>terviewees <strong>in</strong> this<br />

report. Folks expressed frustration <strong>in</strong> superficial and failed reforms that claimed community <strong>in</strong>vestments<br />

which don’t materialize or benefit them. An example <strong>of</strong> this is the <strong>Maryland</strong> Justice Re<strong>in</strong>vestment Act<br />

(JRI), which despite claims to use the sav<strong>in</strong>gs from limit<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>carceration <strong>of</strong> “non-violent drug <strong>of</strong>fenders”<br />

to <strong>in</strong>vest <strong>in</strong> communities, failed to produce <strong>in</strong>vestment <strong>in</strong> community-based alternatives to <strong>in</strong>carceration,<br />

with an analysis <strong>of</strong> JRI’s re<strong>in</strong>vestment efforts not<strong>in</strong>g technical assistant providers feedback:<br />

42 <strong>of</strong> 55

“Brown et al. (2016) report that they believed that there was not a consensus regard<strong>in</strong>g evidencebased<br />

methodologies for community development from justice-re<strong>in</strong>vested funds. By comparison, the<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>ogenic risk and needs literature provided guidance on EBPs. Furthermore, the EBP focus was<br />

consistent with JRI technical assistance providers’ expertise <strong>in</strong> work<strong>in</strong>g with state agencies. <strong>The</strong> TA<br />

providers argued that a justice system focus for JRI better aligned with their skills and experience<br />

than a focus on communities. As Brown and colleagues report, one TA provider acknowledged<br />

‘we’re not community redevelopment experts.’ Although JRI TA providers did not dispute the fact<br />

that disadvantaged communities had great needs, they also po<strong>in</strong>ted to legitimate weaknesses <strong>in</strong><br />

state corrections systems’ operations and argued that these problems needed to be addressed. <strong>The</strong>se<br />

problems provided opportunities for change without need<strong>in</strong>g to take a place-based approach to<br />

justice re<strong>in</strong>vestment (79).”<br />

It is important to note that these failures to <strong>in</strong>vest <strong>in</strong> community came not from active resistance to the<br />

concept <strong>of</strong> re<strong>in</strong>vestment, but from methodological concerns about “evidence-based practices” be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

centered and report<strong>in</strong>g expectations to state and federal government agencies. This technocratic <strong>in</strong>ertia<br />

<strong>of</strong>ten overwhelms good <strong>in</strong>tentions <strong>in</strong> the midst <strong>of</strong> policy implementation, a reality that threatens the<br />

ability for drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization to deliver on l<strong>of</strong>ty rhetoric around community impact.<br />

Policy advocates should make it clear that, rather than a revenue-sav<strong>in</strong>g or revenue-neutral bill, decrim<br />

should be seen as an <strong>in</strong>vestment <strong>in</strong> community capacity to do the work and to work with stakeholders <strong>in</strong><br />

affected communities to identify what forms <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>vestment meet their needs.<br />

This also means decrim advocates would have to do away with one <strong>of</strong> the arguments most prom<strong>in</strong>ently<br />

associated with the drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization position, that money from end<strong>in</strong>g drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization can be<br />

re<strong>in</strong>vested <strong>in</strong>to the community. Police fund<strong>in</strong>g, despite a nationwide “defund the police” movement, has<br />

largely gone up <strong>in</strong> major metropolitan areas. Moreover, much <strong>of</strong> decrim<strong>in</strong>alization advocacy comes at a<br />

state level, while most police departments are funded largely at the municipal level (80).<br />

Claim<strong>in</strong>g that decrim work<strong>in</strong>g largely at a state level can deliver what a nationwide protest movement can<br />

not and shift<strong>in</strong>g money from police to social services at a city/county level, will likely lead to the sort <strong>of</strong><br />

disappo<strong>in</strong>tment and backlash expressed by <strong>in</strong>terviewees <strong>in</strong> this report. Advocates will likely not be able to<br />

deliver on promised <strong>in</strong>vestments, further erod<strong>in</strong>g community trust, and potentially harm<strong>in</strong>g support for<br />

future reform efforts.<br />

Decrim advocates should be honest with themselves and learn the complex realities <strong>of</strong> how public money<br />

flows. Assume your audience is smart enough to hear the hard truth about how difficult it is to w<strong>in</strong> longterm<br />

susta<strong>in</strong>able fund<strong>in</strong>g for community-controlled political and social service <strong>in</strong>frastructure and<br />

strategize with those with<strong>in</strong> civil society who are committed to do<strong>in</strong>g the long, hard, systemic work <strong>of</strong><br />

shift<strong>in</strong>g resources.<br />

2. End Deference to Exogenous “Best Practice” Models<br />

Our work demands a reth<strong>in</strong>k <strong>of</strong> the well-<strong>in</strong>tentioned but ultimately short-sighted rush to import “best<br />

practice” models for drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization from other states (like Oregon) or even overseas (like the socalled<br />

Portugal model drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization) <strong>in</strong>to places like <strong>Maryland</strong>. <strong>The</strong> Oregon model, for all <strong>of</strong> its<br />

potential benefits, still vest decision-mak<strong>in</strong>g power largely with<strong>in</strong> the pr<strong>of</strong>essional public health<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitutions, which <strong>in</strong> Baltimore have a particularly fraught history when it comes to race relations.<br />

Additionally, the Portugal model, though lauded as “pro<strong>of</strong>” that decrim<strong>in</strong>alization can work, may not be as<br />

clean <strong>of</strong> a fit as decrim advocates tend to claim. America, unlike Portugal, is home to a child “welfare”<br />

system which has a massively disproportionate racial bias toward <strong>in</strong>vestigat<strong>in</strong>g and separat<strong>in</strong>g Black<br />

families, with over 50% <strong>of</strong> Black children subject to a family welfare <strong>in</strong>vestigation at some po<strong>in</strong>t <strong>in</strong> their<br />

lives (81). Is there much doubt that, <strong>in</strong> places like Baltimore, a Black citizen's <strong>in</strong>volvement <strong>in</strong> a<br />

theoretically “non-crim<strong>in</strong>al” Portugal-style drug counsel<strong>in</strong>g system would be more likely to trigger<br />

<strong>in</strong>creased scrut<strong>in</strong>y from the family regulation system, with potential consequences <strong>of</strong> permanent family<br />

separation? <strong>The</strong> researcher was surprised to learn that Portugal’s lauded decrim model does have<br />

potential punitive elements (82). While these are <strong>of</strong>ten not used <strong>in</strong> Portugal, is it not likely that the same<br />

model would produce different results <strong>in</strong> a nation def<strong>in</strong>ed by anti-Blackness? Why should grassroots<br />

43 <strong>of</strong> 55

advocates trust the experience <strong>of</strong> other nations that decrim<strong>in</strong>alization didn’t <strong>in</strong>crease drug sales, drug use,<br />

or violent crime, given these nations have fundamentally different histories, demographics, patterns <strong>of</strong><br />

violent crime, and gun laws? Is it surpris<strong>in</strong>g that Black community members don’t quite show trust <strong>in</strong> the<br />

rigor <strong>of</strong> decrim advocate’s analysis <strong>of</strong> White Supremacy?<br />

This is not to say this model is <strong>in</strong>herently bad, but its presentation uncritically as a best practice model for<br />

American policy must be rethought, and the communities have legitimate concerns about these models<br />

which must be met with legitimate answers. Whatever system is presented for decrim, putt<strong>in</strong>g community<br />

control and structure accountability to the community at its center will be key to prevent<strong>in</strong>g decrim from<br />

potentially becom<strong>in</strong>g another vector <strong>of</strong> anti-Black violence.<br />

Places have fundamentally different political histories, needs, and importantly, <strong>in</strong>digenous cultural and<br />

community resources. See<strong>in</strong>g how crim<strong>in</strong>alization prevents these resources from be<strong>in</strong>g cultivated, and<br />

how decrim<strong>in</strong>alization can build community-controlled <strong>in</strong>frastructure that cultivates these resources,<br />

should be central to future research and policy work on decrim.<br />

3. Be Prepared to Negotiate “<strong>The</strong>rmostatic” Crim<strong>in</strong>al Justice Policymak<strong>in</strong>g and Reject the<br />

Violent/Nonviolent Offender Dichotomy<br />

Fordham University pr<strong>of</strong>essor John Pfaff <strong>in</strong> his book, Locked In: <strong>The</strong> True Causes <strong>of</strong> Mass Incarcerationand<br />

How to Achieve Real Reform notes that drug policies have regularly relied on a “standard story” <strong>of</strong><br />

mass <strong>in</strong>carceration, driven by mandatory m<strong>in</strong>imums for nonviolent low-level drug <strong>of</strong>fenses, to push<br />

“pragmatic” drug policy reforms (83). He notes that this standard model no longer corresponds with<br />

reality, writ<strong>in</strong>g:<br />

“In reality, only about 16 percent <strong>of</strong> state prisoners are serv<strong>in</strong>g time on drug charges—and very<br />

few <strong>of</strong> them, perhaps only around 5 or 6 percent <strong>of</strong> that group, are both low level and<br />

nonviolent. At the same time, more than half <strong>of</strong> all people <strong>in</strong> state prisons have been convicted <strong>of</strong><br />

a violent crime. A strategy based on decrim<strong>in</strong>aliz<strong>in</strong>g drugs will thus disappo<strong>in</strong>t—and disappo<strong>in</strong>t<br />

significantly....”<br />

In <strong>Maryland</strong> specifically, Pfaff notes that:<br />

“<strong>Maryland</strong>, generally more liberal than South Carol<strong>in</strong>a, passed a reform bill <strong>in</strong> 2016 that also<br />

cut sanctions for nonviolent crimes while <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>g punishments for some violent ones <strong>in</strong> order<br />

to avoid look<strong>in</strong>g ‘s<strong>of</strong>t on crime.’” (ibid).<br />

<strong>The</strong> concern is echoed <strong>in</strong> some grassroot policy advocates, who are concerned not only that the focus on<br />

non-violent drug <strong>of</strong>fenders trades <strong>of</strong>f with the deeper issues <strong>of</strong> the larger anxieties lawmakers <strong>in</strong> the state<br />

have around Black crim<strong>in</strong>ality, specifically <strong>in</strong> Baltimore City, a place over coded with conceptions <strong>of</strong><br />

crim<strong>in</strong>ality <strong>in</strong> the eyes <strong>of</strong> many lawmakers, that cont<strong>in</strong>ues to drive more crim<strong>in</strong>alization policies.<br />

Moreover, there is concern at “thermostatic” effect, where decreas<strong>in</strong>g crim<strong>in</strong>alization on lower-level drug<br />

crimes gets paired with <strong>in</strong>crease crim<strong>in</strong>alization on other fronts. It is possible that drug policy advocates<br />

will be asked by some to support these sorts <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>creased crim<strong>in</strong>alization on violent crime laws as a quidpro-quo<br />

for support on drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization.<br />

My group, Leaders <strong>of</strong> a Beautiful Struggle, has consistently pushed back aga<strong>in</strong>st Democrat and<br />

Republican supported mandatory m<strong>in</strong>imum/sentenc<strong>in</strong>g enhancement legislation <strong>in</strong> Annapolis. In this<br />

work, we have had to develop our own alternative version <strong>of</strong> the “Standard analysis” <strong>of</strong> mass<br />

<strong>in</strong>carceration, one more compatible with crim<strong>in</strong>al justice reform that <strong>in</strong>cludes sentenc<strong>in</strong>g reform for the<br />

violent <strong>of</strong>fender who actually make up the majority <strong>of</strong> those <strong>in</strong>carcerated <strong>in</strong> state prisons today. I am<br />

present<strong>in</strong>g an abbreviated form <strong>of</strong> this analysis <strong>in</strong> an appendix to help drug policy advocates respond if<br />

they are faced with a request to support <strong>in</strong>creased crim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>of</strong> “violent crime” <strong>in</strong> exchange for<br />

support for drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization.<br />

Us<strong>in</strong>g this analysis to push back aga<strong>in</strong>st sentenc<strong>in</strong>g enhancement and mandatory m<strong>in</strong>imums has allowed<br />

us to push non-reformist reforms that we believe help build the social political <strong>in</strong>frastructure needed for<br />

police and prison abolition, while tak<strong>in</strong>g community concerns for public safety serious and concretely<br />

44 <strong>of</strong> 55

address<strong>in</strong>g these concerns. <strong>The</strong>y have also <strong>of</strong>ten put us at odds with lawmakers and the Democratic Party<br />

leaderships, with one prom<strong>in</strong>ent member <strong>of</strong> the Democratic leadership <strong>in</strong> 2018 labeled our group part <strong>of</strong> a<br />

“crim<strong>in</strong>al lobby,” <strong>in</strong>s<strong>in</strong>uat<strong>in</strong>g that our rejection <strong>of</strong> sentenc<strong>in</strong>g enhancements and mandatory m<strong>in</strong>imums<br />

was out <strong>of</strong> love, fidelity, and affection for the <strong>in</strong>dividuals driv<strong>in</strong>g violence <strong>in</strong> our community and our<br />

support was on their behalf (84).<br />

While we have successfully been able to pass legislation despite clashes with the Black Caucus and<br />

Democratic Party leadership, too many <strong>in</strong> the advocacy space have not shown an appetite to take this sort<br />

<strong>of</strong> criticism, believ<strong>in</strong>g that relationships with lawmakers, negotiation, bipartisanship, and concessions are<br />

the only path to political success. It is unlikely that a bill as contentious as drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization will be<br />

able to pass through the same negotiated, bipartisan concession-based model <strong>of</strong> advocacy that produced<br />

someth<strong>in</strong>g like the Justice Re<strong>in</strong>vestment Act. Moreover, even if decrim<strong>in</strong>alization could pass this way, it is<br />

unlikely that more complex negotiations over resource <strong>in</strong>vestment <strong>in</strong> the community can be produced<br />

through this legislative advocacy methodology, as the failure <strong>of</strong> JRI to produce substantial community<br />

<strong>in</strong>vestment shows.<br />

Some examples <strong>of</strong> specific vectors <strong>of</strong> crim<strong>in</strong>alization to be on the lookout for are laws crim<strong>in</strong>aliz<strong>in</strong>g public<br />

camp<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> cities, panhandl<strong>in</strong>g, driv<strong>in</strong>g under the <strong>in</strong>fluence, possession with <strong>in</strong>tent to distribute, traffic<br />

violations, <strong>in</strong>creased penalties for child support, restitution payment (victims services), possession <strong>of</strong> an<br />

“illegal weapon” (knife or gun), and occupational licens<strong>in</strong>g laws. Any/all <strong>of</strong> these laws can be a tool <strong>of</strong> the<br />

thermostatic crim<strong>in</strong>alization that can undo the <strong>in</strong>tended results <strong>of</strong> drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization.<br />

Similarly, there is an <strong>in</strong>crease <strong>in</strong> the use <strong>of</strong> private security <strong>in</strong> American cities, many <strong>of</strong> whom are armed<br />

(85). Even if decrim<strong>in</strong>alization passes, and police forces lack the authority to arrest people for drug<br />

possession, armed private security turns relatively m<strong>in</strong>or crimes, like shoplift<strong>in</strong>g, loiter<strong>in</strong>g, and public<br />

<strong>in</strong>toxication, <strong>in</strong>to a potential capital <strong>of</strong>fense. Engag<strong>in</strong>g with advocates <strong>of</strong> creat<strong>in</strong>g an accountability system<br />

to address this reality will be a useful addition to drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization advocates legislative agendas.<br />

4. Engage <strong>in</strong> Rigorous Study on the History and Culture <strong>of</strong> Black People<br />

Decrim advocates need to engage <strong>in</strong> rigorous study on the history and culture <strong>of</strong> Black (African) people.<br />

To accomplish this, advocates will have to engage <strong>in</strong> study that:<br />

First. Critically <strong>in</strong>terrogates traditional academic sources and supplements this curriculum is subjugated<br />

knowledge from the Black Radical Tradition.<br />

Second. Look to real world models and “organic <strong>in</strong>tellectuals.”<br />

And<br />

Third. Reflect <strong>in</strong> their own personal culture, values, and experience.<br />

<strong>The</strong> exist<strong>in</strong>g academic sources tell only part <strong>of</strong> the story when it comes to the Black community and drug<br />

policy, and uncritically accepted <strong>in</strong> the narratives produced by these sources risks present<strong>in</strong>g a skewed<br />

view <strong>of</strong> how the Black community engages with drug policy. <strong>The</strong> history <strong>of</strong> harm reduction detailed <strong>in</strong><br />

“Undo<strong>in</strong>g <strong>Drug</strong>s: How Harm Reduction Is Chang<strong>in</strong>g the Future <strong>of</strong> <strong>Drug</strong>s and Addiction” details historical<br />

tension between some <strong>in</strong> the drug policy space, the Black church and some Black elected <strong>of</strong>fices, which<br />

was accused <strong>of</strong> “respectability politics” <strong>in</strong> the 90s when some Black churches and Black elected <strong>of</strong>ficials<br />

opposed needle exchange amid the AIDS crisis (86). Even somewhat sympathetic texts still narrate the<br />

history <strong>of</strong> the Black community <strong>in</strong> relation to drugs as essentially “conservative,” specifically target<strong>in</strong>g<br />

Black elected <strong>of</strong>ficials and Black nationalist/Pan African political formations as promot<strong>in</strong>g drug<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>alization (87). This analysis ignores the history <strong>of</strong> state violence that neutralized radical and<br />

progressive forces <strong>in</strong> the Black community, lead<strong>in</strong>g to reactionary coaptation <strong>of</strong> the rhetoric <strong>of</strong> “Black<br />

Power” after the violence <strong>of</strong> COINTELPRO led to the demobilization, arrest and even murder <strong>of</strong> more<br />

progressive Black Nationalism and Pan African political formations <strong>in</strong> the Black community (88). <strong>The</strong><br />

history <strong>of</strong> the Black church also reveals there have always been progressive and regressive factions <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Black church, and pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g the entire Black church with a broad reactionary brush dismisses a politically<br />

45 <strong>of</strong> 55

powerful <strong>in</strong>dependent Black <strong>in</strong>stitution with a unique history as serv<strong>in</strong>g as a base <strong>of</strong> service provision for<br />

the Black community relative to addiction (27).<br />

This report is <strong>in</strong>fluenced and framed by texts largely excluded from ma<strong>in</strong>stream academic conversations.<br />

It is important that those seek<strong>in</strong>g to create policy for the Black community have a deep engagement with<br />

the culture <strong>of</strong> Black/African people. This <strong>in</strong>cludes understand<strong>in</strong>g culture as more than the artifact that is<br />

<strong>of</strong>ten reduced to (food, dress, dance) and to see culture as “a process that represents the vast structure <strong>of</strong><br />

behaviors, ideas, attitudes, values, habits, beliefs, customs, language, rituals, ceremonies, and practices<br />

peculiar to a particular group <strong>of</strong> people, and that provides them with a general design for liv<strong>in</strong>g and<br />

patterns for <strong>in</strong>terpret<strong>in</strong>g reality (89). Engag<strong>in</strong>g with text from the likes <strong>of</strong> those cited <strong>in</strong> this text and<br />

others who applied African-Centered thought to analyze the “help pr<strong>of</strong>ession” <strong>of</strong> human social service<br />

(Wade Nobles, Marimba Ani, Amos Wilson, Na’im Akbar, Joanne and Elmer Mart<strong>in</strong>) will be essential. It<br />

is especially important to engage with folks, like those <strong>in</strong>terviewed <strong>in</strong> this report or those <strong>in</strong> the academic<br />

world, like the authors <strong>of</strong> the excellent text “Do<strong>in</strong>’ <strong>Drug</strong>s: Do<strong>in</strong>’ <strong>Drug</strong>s: Patterns <strong>of</strong> African American<br />

Addiction”, who have applied African-Centered thought explicit to the issue <strong>of</strong> addiction and drug policy<br />

(27).<br />

Also, look<strong>in</strong>g to real world models for the experiences <strong>of</strong> how these models came to fruition to see how<br />

drug policy can mirror successful approaches <strong>in</strong> other areas. One example <strong>of</strong> this is the work <strong>of</strong> Newark<br />

Community Street Team. In addition to provid<strong>in</strong>g a variety <strong>of</strong> services around violence prevention which<br />

have helped cut Newark's murder rates almost <strong>in</strong> half over the past 7 years, the group has recently been<br />

tapped to do naloxone distribution (90). <strong>The</strong>ir model <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g the use <strong>of</strong> credible messengers, many <strong>of</strong><br />

whom are formerly <strong>in</strong>volved with street organizations or “gangs” to help engage street organization and<br />

prevent retaliatory violence by do<strong>in</strong>g conflict meditation. This organization explicitly frames their work as<br />

a response to the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s as a cont<strong>in</strong>uation <strong>of</strong> slavery and has a community membership structure<br />

that ensures residents <strong>of</strong> Newark have a formal mechanism to hold the <strong>in</strong>stitution accountable (90,91).<br />

This report shows that the communities vision for successful decrim<strong>in</strong>alization extends beyond naloxone<br />

and overdose prevention, but <strong>in</strong> addition to more upstream <strong>in</strong>terventions <strong>in</strong>to the conditions that drive<br />

addiction. Institutions like those engag<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> violence prevention, which are already on the ground <strong>in</strong> the<br />

neighborhoods experienc<strong>in</strong>g high rates <strong>of</strong> overdose and have a high degree <strong>of</strong> credibility with the<br />

community, should be preferred <strong>in</strong> fund<strong>in</strong>g structures giv<strong>in</strong>g grants to do harm reduction work. Even with<br />

the recent push toward social justice <strong>in</strong> grant mak<strong>in</strong>g, this does not always happen, as seen with grants for<br />

violence prevention work, grassroot organizations are <strong>of</strong>ten at a disadvantage, lead<strong>in</strong>g to more established<br />

nonpr<strong>of</strong>its with more connections to the academic and federal fund<strong>in</strong>g world gett<strong>in</strong>g preferred grant<br />

allocations (92).<br />

This is not to say address<strong>in</strong>g this problem will be easy. Federal grants are notorious for specificity and<br />

onerous report<strong>in</strong>g requirements and paperwork burdens. Nonetheless, those who have decision-mak<strong>in</strong>g<br />

power over resources related to harm reduction at the state, local, and foundation level should take<br />

affirmative steps to ensure criteria that can be de facto exclusionary <strong>of</strong> Black grassroots organizations.<br />

Examples <strong>of</strong> common requirements for grants that risk be<strong>in</strong>g exclusive <strong>of</strong> Black grassroots organizations,<br />

despite be<strong>in</strong>g on face “race neutral,” are capital requirements, requirements for possession <strong>of</strong> 501c3 status<br />

(as compared to fiscal sponsorship) and requirements for possession <strong>of</strong> audit f<strong>in</strong>ancial statements. If<br />

these are present <strong>in</strong> grant applications, advocates can challenge that they be deemed essential (as opposed<br />

to preferable), or weighted too much <strong>in</strong> the decision-mak<strong>in</strong>g matrix to exclude grassroots organizations<br />

who have the potential to do good work but may not be able to meet these requirements. If these<br />

provisions are <strong>in</strong>cluded, advocates should ensure that there are substantial capacity build<strong>in</strong>g resources<br />

given to grassroot organizations before the application period to help them apply. Those who receive<br />

grants will likely need help with report<strong>in</strong>g requirements, bookkeep<strong>in</strong>g, and others <strong>of</strong>ten overlook<br />

adm<strong>in</strong>istrative burdens like obta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>surance.<br />

F<strong>in</strong>ally, advocates will have to look at themselves and their assumptions. In traditional advocacy, it is<br />

common to see those opposed to your policy as opposition to be neutralized. A shift will be needed to<br />

understand that, while some <strong>in</strong> the Black community may never support decrim<strong>in</strong>alization or legalization,<br />

simply mov<strong>in</strong>g folks from a vehement opposition to s<strong>of</strong>t opposition or neutral, can be a great victory.<br />

Adopt<strong>in</strong>g this posture towards policy advocacy might be h<strong>in</strong>dered by anxiety around conflict and<br />

dichotomous (friend vs enemy) th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g, two <strong>of</strong> the characteristics presented <strong>in</strong> the Tema Okun’s essay<br />

46 <strong>of</strong> 55

“White Supremacy Culture” as h<strong>in</strong>drances to social justice work (93). A full analysis <strong>of</strong> how drug<br />

decrim<strong>in</strong>alization should be reformed through the lens <strong>of</strong> a critique <strong>of</strong> White supremacy culture and a fullscale<br />

analysis <strong>of</strong> what an African-Centered addition prevention and treatment system would look like was<br />

beyond the scope <strong>of</strong> this report, but this report shows there are also fundamentally cultural differences<br />

between how communities engage with questions <strong>of</strong> progress and evaluate the world that are potential<br />

po<strong>in</strong>ts <strong>of</strong> tension on drug policy. Difference around conceptions <strong>of</strong> time (l<strong>in</strong>ear vs cyclical), relations to<br />

spirituality (secular scientism vs African centered notions <strong>of</strong> embodied spirituality), and cultural<br />

conceptions <strong>of</strong> progress (<strong>in</strong>dividual and technological vs communal and social) are all potential stick<strong>in</strong>g<br />

po<strong>in</strong>ts around potential future collaboration between public health/drug policy advocates and the Black<br />

community around construct<strong>in</strong>g mutually agreeable drug policy.<br />

Another tenant <strong>of</strong> White Supremacy culture, Okun, outl<strong>in</strong>es the desire for control, which can perhaps help<br />

expla<strong>in</strong> the anxiety or relative silence <strong>in</strong> the drug policy community around the need for community<br />

control. An analysis <strong>of</strong> Google Scholar articles shows there are roughly 4% <strong>of</strong> articles discuss<strong>in</strong>g harm<br />

reduction even mention “community control,” with roughly half <strong>of</strong> the articles mention<strong>in</strong>g community<br />

control focused on <strong>in</strong>ternational harm reduction work. In a world where “penal populism” has been<br />

derided as the cause <strong>of</strong> the <strong>in</strong>carceration boom, with prosecutors and politicians attempt<strong>in</strong>g to cover their<br />

tail after any overdose or murder by engag<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> performative “tough on crime”/“tough on addict” policy,<br />

the solution <strong>of</strong>fered by some has been to turn deeper <strong>in</strong>to deferr<strong>in</strong>g to experts and technocracy be<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

mechanism <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>sulat<strong>in</strong>g crim<strong>in</strong>al justice and drug policy from backlash.<br />

This, however, can and has been used aga<strong>in</strong>st those seek<strong>in</strong>g to redistribute power and resources to the<br />

communities directly impacted by drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization.<br />

Alternatively, embrac<strong>in</strong>g community control is corrective to this approach, and look<strong>in</strong>g to the Black<br />

radical tradition can be a tool to see how a deeper analysis <strong>of</strong> the history and culture <strong>of</strong> African people can<br />

help provide a bluepr<strong>in</strong>t for more emancipatory drug policy. As seen with the civil rights movement<br />

sett<strong>in</strong>g the stage for women’s rights, the American Indian Movement, and queer liberation struggles, I<br />

believe that engag<strong>in</strong>g with the Black radical tradition can hold the seeds for the drug policy community to<br />

more comprehensively address concerns around community control and technocracy for a variety <strong>of</strong><br />

communities. While associated with Jesse Jackson <strong>in</strong> the 1980s, the orig<strong>in</strong>al “Ra<strong>in</strong>bow Coalition” was<br />

formed by the Chicago Black Panther under the leadership <strong>of</strong> Fred Hampton, with him broker<strong>in</strong>g strategic<br />

alliances with the Puerto Rican Young Lords and the poor work<strong>in</strong>g organiz<strong>in</strong>g group the Young Patriots<br />

Party (94). <strong>The</strong>y adopted the slogan:<br />

“Unity <strong>in</strong> the Community! Black Power to Black People! White Power to White People! Brown<br />

Power to Brown People! Yellow Power to Yellow People! Red Power to Red People.”<br />

While many today would balk at this language, this call for multi-ethnic pluralism sets the stage for a<br />

recognition <strong>of</strong> mutual self-<strong>in</strong>terest that can unite the Black and Lat<strong>in</strong>o communities most impacted by<br />

drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization with the lower<strong>in</strong>g class <strong>of</strong> white communities which have <strong>of</strong>ten been the most<br />

vehement opposition to redistributive policy.<br />

In <strong>Maryland</strong>, this approach has already yielded concrete benefits on the drug policy front. When we<br />

presented our policy proposal for reparations for the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s, which our calls to redistribute tax<br />

revenue from cannabis legalization to localities to repair the harms <strong>of</strong> drug crim<strong>in</strong>alization met with<br />

concerns from progressives that the “Bad, Trump Supporters” <strong>in</strong> Western <strong>Maryland</strong> and the Eastern shore<br />

would do bad th<strong>in</strong>gs with the money if we gave them local control. This raises the concern<strong>in</strong>g prospect<br />

that local control to the communities most impacted by the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s could be denied because <strong>of</strong><br />

fears <strong>of</strong> what racists would do with similar local control, an example <strong>of</strong> how paternalistic attempts to<br />

“protect” communities can boomerang and deny them the very control the advocates seeks to safeguard.<br />

We responded by putt<strong>in</strong>g basic guide rails to prevent abuse (they can’t be used to fund police and can’t be<br />

used to replace already allocated funds to prevent backdoor defund <strong>of</strong> other programs) and basic<br />

report<strong>in</strong>g requirements on these funds to ensure transparency, but not capitulat<strong>in</strong>g to calls these funds be<br />

distributed centrally by a racial equity “czar” appo<strong>in</strong>ted by the governor.<br />

We also made it clear that, even if we don’t always agree with how work<strong>in</strong>g-class white people def<strong>in</strong>e how<br />

they want to address addiction, as I don’t have the authority to assert a solution on their behalf, and I<br />

47 <strong>of</strong> 55

trust work<strong>in</strong>g-class people <strong>in</strong> turn would know what would work best for them. At the very least, local<br />

control gives progressives a fight<strong>in</strong>g chance to <strong>in</strong>fluence where the funds go at a local level, a battleground<br />

more conducive to grassroots mobilization than the state capital <strong>of</strong> Annapolis. In this way, our demand for<br />

local control for the Black community had opened up space for work<strong>in</strong>g class white communities to<br />

exercise a degree <strong>of</strong> local control for themselves, not to mention predom<strong>in</strong>antly Lat<strong>in</strong>o communities likely<br />

to be significant beneficiaries <strong>of</strong> funds designed to disproportionately support areas where the majority <strong>of</strong><br />

cannabis related arrests occurred.<br />

Critiques <strong>of</strong> technocracy and defenses <strong>of</strong> local control come from many different ideological and political<br />

positions. What a Pan African radical means when they present a critique <strong>of</strong> technocracy might be<br />

different from what a white Republican means, so rather than the knee-jerk response <strong>of</strong> see<strong>in</strong>g folks who<br />

make this criticism as “conservative,” perhaps it’s time to hear what they have to say. You don’t have to<br />

always agree, but, regardless <strong>of</strong> the race and political affiliation <strong>of</strong> the person provid<strong>in</strong>g the criticism,<br />

genu<strong>in</strong>ely listen<strong>in</strong>g may be a good place to start.<br />

None <strong>of</strong> this is to say that this will be easy, but a robust conversation on these dynamics can create the<br />

space for drug policy and drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization to evolve. <strong>The</strong> frame <strong>of</strong> “evidence based” policy, public<br />

health language, and the “standard narrative” <strong>of</strong> drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization is a protective cocoon that is<br />

<strong>in</strong>cubat<strong>in</strong>g drug policy and protect<strong>in</strong>g it from opposition. It is <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>gly, however, also becom<strong>in</strong>g a<br />

source <strong>of</strong> constriction, prevent<strong>in</strong>g the issue from spread<strong>in</strong>g its proverbial w<strong>in</strong>gs and engag<strong>in</strong>g with<br />

community’s desire for self-governance and a redistribution <strong>of</strong> power and resources. For drug<br />

decrim<strong>in</strong>alization to fly among the masses, it will have to enter a more vulnerable butterfly state, able to<br />

ride the w<strong>in</strong>ds <strong>of</strong> change stirred by the people. Like the proverbial butterfly <strong>of</strong>f the coast <strong>of</strong> Africa flapp<strong>in</strong>g<br />

its w<strong>in</strong>gs eventually caus<strong>in</strong>g a hurricane <strong>in</strong> the Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico, it is only <strong>in</strong> this more chaotic state where<br />

the beat<strong>in</strong>g w<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong> change <strong>in</strong> drug decrim<strong>in</strong>alization and harm reduction kick up can beg<strong>in</strong> to <strong>in</strong>tersect<br />

with and magnify other social justice struggles, creat<strong>in</strong>g storms <strong>of</strong> resistance that can coalesces <strong>in</strong>to forces<br />

strong enough to fundamentally disrupt the sea <strong>of</strong> white supremacy and anti-Blackness we are all still<br />

swimm<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>.<br />

48 <strong>of</strong> 55

Appendix<br />

An Alternative Analysis <strong>of</strong> Violent Crime/Why “Tough on Crime” Policies Fail<br />

Mandatory m<strong>in</strong>imums and sentence enhancement for so-called “repeat violent <strong>of</strong>fenders” mostly fail to<br />

address or deter serious violent crime, sweep<strong>in</strong>g up <strong>in</strong>dividuals who have crim<strong>in</strong>al records largely because<br />

they're liv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> massively over policed neighborhoods where the crim<strong>in</strong>al justice system is used to<br />

address<strong>in</strong>g behavior which <strong>in</strong> other neighborhoods is addressed through social work or mental health<br />

<strong>in</strong>terventions.<br />

Realities like the racial bias school to prison pipel<strong>in</strong>e, refusal to <strong>of</strong>fer different programs to Black<br />

<strong>of</strong>fenders, over prosecution <strong>of</strong> Black youth <strong>in</strong> the adult justice system, overcharg<strong>in</strong>g illicit plea deals,<br />

overzealous elected prosecutors try<strong>in</strong>g to bolster their “tough on crime” bona fides and general over<br />

polic<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the Black community means the many <strong>of</strong> the demonized “repeat violent <strong>of</strong>fenders” targeted by<br />

sentenc<strong>in</strong>g enhancements are victims <strong>of</strong> circumstance who would be better addressed through social<br />

services than a prison system largely denuded <strong>of</strong> rehabilitation services.<br />

Similarly, mandatory m<strong>in</strong>imums for gun possession sweep up those peripherally <strong>in</strong>volved <strong>in</strong> black market<br />

economic activity, <strong>of</strong>ten carry<strong>in</strong>g an illegal gun because they work <strong>in</strong> cash economies and have no ability<br />

to appeal to courts or police if they are robbed. This is sometimes, but not always, the drug trade,<br />

<strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g any so-called “gray market” work where cash payment is common (security, party promotion,<br />

plumb<strong>in</strong>g, etc).<br />

Also, many people simply live <strong>in</strong> dangerous neighborhoods and may feel they need a gun to protect<br />

themselves and their families. Most <strong>of</strong> these <strong>in</strong>dividuals cannot get legal weapons for self-defense as<br />

grow<strong>in</strong>g up <strong>in</strong> work<strong>in</strong>g class Black neighborhoods means many have been caught up <strong>in</strong> drug sweeps and<br />

other vestiges <strong>of</strong> racial targeted polic<strong>in</strong>g which precludes them from gett<strong>in</strong>g legal weapons.<br />

All <strong>of</strong> this means there is little to no deterrent effect <strong>of</strong> these laws, as people are more afraid <strong>of</strong> starv<strong>in</strong>g or<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g a victim <strong>of</strong> street violence than they are <strong>of</strong> be<strong>in</strong>g caught by the police. This means it is the<br />

fundamental conditions <strong>of</strong> surviv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> their environment that drives <strong>in</strong>dividuals <strong>in</strong>to a situation where<br />

they can be swept up by these laws.<br />

While advocates claim these laws are needed to address public safety, and would only impact a small<br />

number <strong>of</strong> the “worst <strong>of</strong> the worst” <strong>of</strong>fenders, the reality is we already have severe mandatory m<strong>in</strong>imums<br />

for violent crime and weapon possession, and far from impact<strong>in</strong>g only a few, these laws are the real reason<br />

we have hundreds <strong>of</strong> thousands <strong>of</strong> people <strong>in</strong>carcerated <strong>in</strong> a prison <strong>in</strong>dustrial complex which exposes those<br />

caught up <strong>in</strong> it with undisclosed violence and trauma (83). This long sentence isolated many young men<br />

and women from community support and the ma<strong>in</strong>stream economy, mean<strong>in</strong>g they are more likely to<br />

commit crimes when they get out, and these crimes may be more severe (95). Even if <strong>in</strong>dividuals locked<br />

up are <strong>in</strong> street organizations (so-called “gangs”), lock<strong>in</strong>g them up fails to disrupt the bus<strong>in</strong>ess model <strong>of</strong><br />

these organizations. It <strong>in</strong>stead creates a “job open<strong>in</strong>g” <strong>in</strong> the underground economy, one quickly filled by a<br />

person <strong>of</strong>ten before only peripherally <strong>in</strong>volved with the “street game” and <strong>of</strong>ten younger than the person<br />

who was <strong>in</strong>carcerated, further the cycle <strong>of</strong> material deprivation, survival economics, <strong>in</strong>carceration, and<br />

recidivism <strong>in</strong>to the next generation (ibid). F<strong>in</strong>ally, this constant churn <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>dividuals <strong>in</strong> and out <strong>of</strong> prison<br />

destabilizes communities, shredd<strong>in</strong>g the social fabric <strong>of</strong> the Black and brown communities most impacted<br />

by mass <strong>in</strong>carceration, destroy<strong>in</strong>g their ability to build the sorts <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>stitutions needed to create alternative<br />

street economy (6).<br />

All <strong>of</strong> this makes violent crime more likely, not less likely, <strong>in</strong> the future.<br />

While we seek an abolitionist praxis toward polic<strong>in</strong>g, we recognize communities have very real public<br />

safety needs, with many <strong>in</strong> these communities demand<strong>in</strong>g polic<strong>in</strong>g be part <strong>of</strong> the solution to violent crime.<br />

However, even if one believes police can play some role <strong>in</strong> address<strong>in</strong>g violent crime, a focus on mandatory<br />

m<strong>in</strong>imums and sentence enhancements are a get out <strong>of</strong> work free card for shoddy police work and<br />

prosecutors who want the threat <strong>of</strong> an <strong>in</strong>creased jail sentence to leverage pleas out <strong>of</strong> the accused because<br />

they lack confidence <strong>in</strong> their ability to w<strong>in</strong> a conviction. This means they don’t have to address the<br />

49 <strong>of</strong> 55

systemic corruption and <strong>in</strong>competence <strong>in</strong> the police force. Police corruption directly implicated the ability<br />

<strong>of</strong> prosecutors to get convictions, with many <strong>of</strong>ficers on the police force unable to be called to testify <strong>in</strong> a<br />

trial, less defense lawyers be able to br<strong>in</strong>g up their own record <strong>of</strong> wrongdo<strong>in</strong>g and thus br<strong>in</strong>g their<br />

testimony <strong>in</strong>to question.<br />

Lack <strong>of</strong> accountability and a history <strong>of</strong> excessive use <strong>of</strong> force on Black communities by police destroys the<br />

ability <strong>of</strong> the community to trust police, so much so that even when the community deems someone <strong>in</strong> the<br />

community a risk to the public safety, they feel they have no recourse, as the police <strong>in</strong>competence and the<br />

general sense that police don’t care if poor Black people kill other poor Black people means that<br />

cooperat<strong>in</strong>g with them is seen as po<strong>in</strong>tless. <strong>The</strong>re is also the very real threat <strong>of</strong> retaliation for testify<strong>in</strong>g<br />

aga<strong>in</strong>st someone, where the police’s lack <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>vestment <strong>in</strong> witness protection means even the rare person<br />

will<strong>in</strong>g to work with the police will likely fear for their safety.<br />

Historically low conviction rates for major police forces around the nation is a testament to the <strong>in</strong>ability <strong>of</strong><br />

police to do their jobs, mean<strong>in</strong>g giv<strong>in</strong>g them more power is unlikely to lead to the justice victims <strong>of</strong> violent<br />

crime seek (96).<br />

This also expla<strong>in</strong>s why these efforts fail to deter violent crime produced by organized street violence, as<br />

these <strong>in</strong>dividuals, unlike most <strong>of</strong>fenders, can <strong>of</strong>ten afford very good lawyers, and they believe, <strong>of</strong>ten<br />

correctly, that the police are <strong>in</strong>competent and even if they are caught they will not be convicted. <strong>The</strong>y also<br />

believe that without public cooperation, they are unlikely to be caught. <strong>The</strong>re is little concrete evidence<br />

that there is any long term, general deterrent effect from <strong>in</strong>crease polic<strong>in</strong>g, <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>g sentence length, or<br />

mandatory m<strong>in</strong>imums when it comes to violent crime (97,98). Only certa<strong>in</strong>ty <strong>of</strong> arrest seems to have any<br />

deterrent effect, and polic<strong>in</strong>g accountability to the community is the prerequisite for the community<br />

cooperation that makes arrests possible, mean<strong>in</strong>g even if deterrence is <strong>of</strong> primary importance, police<br />

reform is a necessary prerequisite to this largely theoretical “deterrence.”<br />

In the short term, efforts like police accountability, <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g community oversight <strong>of</strong> police <strong>in</strong>ternal<br />

<strong>in</strong>vestigations and compla<strong>in</strong>ts <strong>of</strong> police brutality, will help rebuild trust <strong>in</strong> the community that police are<br />

accountable to and thus can be trusted with some degree <strong>of</strong> cooperation. Increase support for efforts like<br />

witness protection to allow the community, if they so choose, to help the police serve the one function<br />

most believe they legitimately need to serve, arrest<strong>in</strong>g and convict<strong>in</strong>g the small fraction <strong>of</strong> those <strong>in</strong> the<br />

community who are actually the drivers <strong>of</strong> violence <strong>in</strong> our communities. This <strong>in</strong>vestment should be<br />

conditioned upon <strong>in</strong>vestments <strong>in</strong> community-controlled violence prevention, mental health services and<br />

economic opportunity, which can serve to end the need for polic<strong>in</strong>g as we know it. <strong>The</strong>se services must be<br />

owned and controlled by the community and response to unique conditions that drive violence <strong>in</strong> our<br />

communities.”<br />

50 <strong>of</strong> 55

References<br />

1. Smith C. Blacks <strong>in</strong> State Legislatures: A State-by-State Map [Internet]. Govern<strong>in</strong>g. 2021 [cited 2023<br />

Feb 9]. Available from: https://www.govern<strong>in</strong>g.com/now/Blacks-<strong>in</strong>-State-Legislatures-A-State-by-<br />

State-Map.html<br />

2. Varcoe C. Do<strong>in</strong>g participatory action research <strong>in</strong> a racist world. West J Nurs Res. 2006<br />

Aug;28(5):525–40; discussion 561-563.<br />

3. Akbar N. AKBAR PAPERS IN AFRICAN PSYCHOLOGY [Internet]. M<strong>in</strong>d Productions & Associates;<br />

2003 [cited 2022 Dec 23]. Available from: https://africaworldpressbooks.com/akbar-papers-<strong>in</strong>african-psychology-by-naim-akbar-ph-d-hardcover/<br />

4. Fenton J. Ex-bail bondsman who helped Gun Trace Task Force leader sell drugs is home from prison.<br />

Wash<strong>in</strong>gton Post [Internet]. 2021 Jun 30 [cited 2023 Feb 9]; Available from: https://<br />

www.wash<strong>in</strong>gtonpost.com/local/public-safety/baltimore-police-gun-trace-drugs/2021/06/30/<br />

cf2fe28a-d85f-11eb-bb9e-70fda8c37057_story.html<br />

5. Kozlowski M, Glazener E, Mitchell JA, Lynch JP, Smith J. Decrim<strong>in</strong>alization and Depenalization <strong>of</strong><br />

Marijuana Possession: A Case Study <strong>of</strong> Enforcement Outcomes <strong>in</strong> Pr<strong>in</strong>ce George’s County. Crim<strong>in</strong>ol<br />

Crim Justice Law Soc. 2019;20:109.<br />

6. Clear TR. Imprison<strong>in</strong>g Communities: How Mass Incarceration Makes Disadvantaged Neighborhoods<br />

Worse. Oxford University Press; 2009. 274 p.<br />

7. Webb G. Dark Alliance: <strong>The</strong> CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Coca<strong>in</strong>e Explosion. Seven Stories Press;<br />

1998. 592 p.<br />

8. West LJ. A Cl<strong>in</strong>ical and <strong>The</strong>oretical Overview <strong>of</strong> Halluc<strong>in</strong>atory Phenomena. New York. Wiley; 1975.<br />

287–311 p. (Halluc<strong>in</strong>ations: Behavior, Experience and <strong>The</strong>ory).<br />

9. Wash<strong>in</strong>gton HA. Medical apartheid: the dark history <strong>of</strong> medical experimentation on Black Americans<br />

from colonial times to the present / Harriet A. Wash<strong>in</strong>gton. New York: Harlem Moon; 2006.<br />

10. Gomez MB, Muntaner C. Urban redevelopment and neighborhood health <strong>in</strong> East Baltimore,<br />

<strong>Maryland</strong>: <strong>The</strong> role <strong>of</strong> communitarian and <strong>in</strong>stitutional social capital. Crit Public Health. 2005<br />

Jun;15(2):83–102.<br />

11. Wood P, Broadwater L. Alumnus, major donor Michael Bloomberg wants private, armed police force<br />

patroll<strong>in</strong>g Johns Hopk<strong>in</strong>s University [Internet]. Baltimore Sun. [cited 2023 Feb 9]. Available from:<br />

https://www.baltimoresun.com/politics/bs-md-bloomberg-hopk<strong>in</strong>s-police-20190122-story.html<br />

12. Orr M. Black Social Capital: <strong>The</strong> Politics <strong>of</strong> School Reform <strong>in</strong> Baltimore, 1986-1998. University Press<br />

<strong>of</strong> Kansas; 1999. 264 p.<br />

13. Portner J. Baltimore Plan To Offer Norplant Raises Ethical, Medical, Legal Questions. Education<br />

Week [Internet]. 1992 Dec 16 [cited 2023 Feb 9]; Available from: https://www.edweek.org/<br />

education/baltimore-plan-to-<strong>of</strong>fer-norplant-raises-ethical-medical-legal-questions/1992/12<br />

14. Jekanowski E. Fall 2018 Journal: Voluntarily, for the Good <strong>of</strong> Society: Norplant, Coercive Policy, and<br />

Reproductive Justice - Berkeley Public Policy Journal [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2023 Feb 9]. Available<br />

from: https://bppj.berkeley.edu/2018/08/23/norplant-coercive-policy-and-reproductive-justice/<br />

15. Alexander M. <strong>The</strong> New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration <strong>in</strong> the Age <strong>of</strong> Colorbl<strong>in</strong>dness. <strong>The</strong> New Press;<br />

2020. 434 p.<br />

16. Porzig M, Vicente “Panama” Alba. Critical Resistance [Internet]. Critical Resistance. 2013 [cited 2023<br />

Feb 9]. Available from: https://criticalresistance.org/resources/l<strong>in</strong>coln-detox-center-the-peoplesdrug-program/<br />

17. Anderson J. Baltimore Police <strong>of</strong>ficers to use discretion for low-level arrests to limit coronavirus<br />

exposure [Internet]. Baltimore Sun. 2020 [cited 2022 Dec 24]. Available from: https://<br />

www.baltimoresun.com/coronavirus/bs-md-police-coronaviruspolicy-20200319-7iz2zuwmnbdz5pnrkbiq2r4dre-story.html<br />

18. Rouhani S, Tomko C, Weicker N, Sherman S. Evaluation <strong>of</strong> Prosecutorial Policy Reforms Elim<strong>in</strong>at<strong>in</strong>g<br />

Crim<strong>in</strong>al Penalties for <strong>Drug</strong> Possession and Sex Work <strong>in</strong> Baltimore, <strong>Maryland</strong> [Internet]. Baltimore:<br />

Johns Hopk<strong>in</strong>s Bloomberg School <strong>of</strong> Public Health; 2021. Available from: publichealth.jhu.edu/sites/<br />

default/files/2021-10/prosecutorial-policy-evaluation-report.pdf<br />

19. Park JN, Rouhani S, Beletsky L, V<strong>in</strong>cent L, Saloner B, Sherman SG. Situat<strong>in</strong>g the Cont<strong>in</strong>uum <strong>of</strong><br />

Overdose Risk <strong>in</strong> the Social Determ<strong>in</strong>ants <strong>of</strong> Health: A New Conceptual Framework. Milbank Q.<br />

2020;98(3):700–46.<br />

20. Bass S. Polic<strong>in</strong>g Space, Polic<strong>in</strong>g Race: Social Control Imperatives and Police Discretionary Decisions.<br />

Soc Justice. 2001;28(1 (83)):156–76.<br />

21. LBS. PODCAST: From the Streets to the Statehouse – Ep. 2 (2/3/2020) – MPIA, Protect Our M<strong>in</strong>ors<br />

51 <strong>of</strong> 55

& <strong>The</strong> Baltimore “Black Hole” [Internet]. Leaders <strong>of</strong> a Beautiful Struggle. 2020 [cited 2022 Dec 23].<br />

Available from: https://lbsbaltimore.com/podcast-from-the-streets-to-the-statehouseep-2-2-3-2020-mpia-protect-our-m<strong>in</strong>ors-the-baltimore-black-hole/<br />

22. Payne YA, Bryant A. Street Participatory Action Research <strong>in</strong> Prison: A Methodology to Challenge<br />

Privilege and Power <strong>in</strong> Correctional Facilities. Prison J. 2018 Sep;98(4):449–69.<br />

23. Grandpre L. <strong>Drug</strong> Decrim<strong>in</strong>alization <strong>in</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong> Through an African Centered Research Paradigm-<br />

Analysis and Recommendations [Internet]. Leaders <strong>of</strong> a Beautiful Struggle. 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 27].<br />

Available from: https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/66179592/drug-decrim<strong>in</strong>alization-<strong>in</strong>maryland-through-an-african-centered-research-paradigm-analysis-and-recommendations<br />

24. Dasgupta N, Beletsky L, Ciccarone D. Opioid Crisis: No Easy Fix to Its Social and Economic<br />

Determ<strong>in</strong>ants. Am J Public Health [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2022 Feb 12];108(2). Available from:<br />

https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.2017.304187<br />

25. Alexander BK. <strong>The</strong> globalisation <strong>of</strong> addiction: A study <strong>in</strong> poverty <strong>of</strong> the spirit. New York, NY, US:<br />

Oxford University Press; 2008. xi, 470 p. (<strong>The</strong> globalisation <strong>of</strong> addiction: A study <strong>in</strong> poverty <strong>of</strong> the<br />

spirit).<br />

26. Schiele JH. <strong>The</strong> Afrocentric paradigm <strong>in</strong> social work: A historical perspective and future outlook. J<br />

Hum Behav Soc Environ. 2017 Feb 17;27(1–2):15–26.<br />

27. James WH, Johnson SL. Do<strong>in</strong>’ <strong>Drug</strong>s: Patterns <strong>of</strong> African American Addiction. University <strong>of</strong> Texas<br />

Press; 1996. 189 p.<br />

28. Dumont DM, Allen SA, Brockmann BW, Alexander NE, Rich JD. Incarceration, community health,<br />

and racial disparities. J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2013 Feb;24(1):78–88.<br />

29. R. Clear T. <strong>The</strong> Effects <strong>of</strong> High Imprisonment Rates on Communities. Crime Justice [Internet]. 2015<br />

Jul 17 [cited 2021 Aug 12]; Available from: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/<br />

10.1086/522360<br />

30. About [Internet]. Leaders <strong>of</strong> a Beautiful Struggle. 2023 [cited 2023 Jan 21]. Available from: https://<br />

lbsbaltimore.com/about/<br />

31. Sawyer W, Wagner P. Mass Incarceration: <strong>The</strong> Whole Pie 2020 [Internet]. Prison Polict Initiative;<br />

2020 Mar [cited 2020 Nov 20]. Available from: https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2020.html<br />

32. Investigation <strong>of</strong> the Baltimore City Police Department [Internet]. United States Department <strong>of</strong><br />

Justice; 2016 [cited 2020 Nov 18]. Available from: https://www.justice.gov/crt/file/883296/<br />

download<br />

33. <strong>Maryland</strong> Department <strong>of</strong> Health. Overdose <strong>in</strong> <strong>Maryland</strong> [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2022 Feb 11].<br />

Available from: health.maryland.gov/DocumentsOverdoseAnnual_2020_<strong>Drug</strong>_Intox_Report.pd<br />

34. Civil Society [Internet]. Oxford Reference. [cited 2023 Jan 21]. Available from: https://<br />

35. Jessica Gordon N. Collective Courage: A History <strong>of</strong> African American Cooperative Economic Thought<br />

and Practice [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2022 Dec 23]. Available from: https://www.psupress.org/books/<br />

titles/978-0-271-06216-7.html<br />

36. AFRO S to the. Rema<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g Goon Squad Members Look Back on ’68 Riots [Internet]. AFRO American<br />

Newspapers. 2018 [cited 2022 Dec 23]. Available from: http://afro.com/rema<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g-goon-squadmembers-look-back-68-riots/<br />

37. W<strong>in</strong>bush R. Should America Pay?: Slavery and the Rag<strong>in</strong>g Debate on Reparations. Harper Coll<strong>in</strong>s;<br />

2010. 723 p.<br />

38. Obadele I. Reparations Now! A Suggestion Toward the Framework <strong>of</strong> a Reparations Demand and a<br />

Set <strong>of</strong> Legal Underp<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>gs. NYLS J Hum Rights [Internet]. 1988 Jan 1;5(2). Available from: https://<br />

digitalcommons.nyls.edu/journal_<strong>of</strong>_human_rights/vol5/iss2/6<br />

39. Munn Z, Peters MDJ, Stern C, Tufanaru C, McArthur A, Aromataris E. Systematic review or scop<strong>in</strong>g<br />

review? Guidance for authors when choos<strong>in</strong>g between a systematic or scop<strong>in</strong>g review approach. BMC<br />

Med Res Methodol. 2018 Dec;18(1):143.<br />

40. Charities AB. Clairvoyance: Reweav<strong>in</strong>g the Fabric <strong>of</strong> Community for Black Folk. New Th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g<br />

Publications; 1998. 256 p.<br />

41. Putnam RD. Bowl<strong>in</strong>g Alone: <strong>The</strong> Collapse and Revival <strong>of</strong> American Community. Simon and Schuster;<br />

2000. 550 p.<br />

42. Hoyman M, McCall J, Paarlberg L, Brennan J. Consider<strong>in</strong>g the Role <strong>of</strong> Social Capital for Economic<br />

Development Outcomes <strong>in</strong> U.S. Counties. Econ Dev Q. 2016 Nov 1;30(4):342–57.<br />

43. Sullivan LY. <strong>The</strong> demise <strong>of</strong> black civil society: once upon a time when we were colored meets the hiphop<br />

generation. Soc Policy. 1996 Dec 22;27(2):6–11.<br />

44. Arksey H, O’Malley L. Scop<strong>in</strong>g studies: towards a methodological framework. Int J Soc Res Methodol.<br />

2005 Feb 1;8(1):19–32.<br />

52 <strong>of</strong> 55

45. Cooper HL, Clark CD, Barham T, Embry V, Caruso B, Comfort M. “He Was the Story <strong>of</strong> My <strong>Drug</strong> Use<br />

Life”: A Longitud<strong>in</strong>al Qualitative Study <strong>of</strong> the Impact <strong>of</strong> Partner Incarceration on Substance Misuse<br />

Patterns Among African American Women. Subst Use Misuse. 2014;49(1–2):176–88.<br />

46. Griff<strong>in</strong> AD, Tasca M, Orrick EA. Gett<strong>in</strong>g high after gett<strong>in</strong>g out: Understand<strong>in</strong>g the relationship<br />

between support, stressors, and drug use among men and women <strong>in</strong> early reentry. Crime<br />

Del<strong>in</strong>quency. 2020;66(13–14):1839–64.<br />

47. Kennedy SC, Mennicke AM, Allen C. “I took care <strong>of</strong> my kids”: mother<strong>in</strong>g while <strong>in</strong>carcerated. Health<br />

Justice. 2020;8(1):12.<br />

48. McLean RL, Robarge J, Sherman SG. Release from jail: moment <strong>of</strong> crisis or w<strong>in</strong>dow <strong>of</strong> opportunity<br />

for female deta<strong>in</strong>ees? J Urban Health. 2006;83(3):382–93.<br />

49. Roussell A, Holmes MD, Anderson-Sprecher R. Community characteristics and methamphetam<strong>in</strong>e<br />

use <strong>in</strong> a rural state: An analysis <strong>of</strong> pre<strong>in</strong>carceration usage by prison <strong>in</strong>mates. Crime Del<strong>in</strong>quency.<br />

2013;59(7):1036–63.<br />

50. Rozanova J, Brown SE, Bhushan A, Marcus R, Altice FL. Effect <strong>of</strong> social relationships on<br />

antiretroviral medication adherence for people liv<strong>in</strong>g with HIV and substance use disorders and<br />

transition<strong>in</strong>g from prison. Health Justice. 2015;3:18.<br />

51. Snell-Rood C, Staton-T<strong>in</strong>dall M, Victor G. Incarcerated women’s relationship-based strategies to<br />

avoid drug use after community re-entry. Women Health. 2016;56(7):843–58.<br />

52. van Olphen J, Eliason MJ, Freudenberg N, Barnes M. Nowhere to go: how stigma limits the options<br />

<strong>of</strong> female drug users after release from jail. Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2009;4:10.<br />

53. Change-Bae Lee, Schulenberg JL. <strong>The</strong> Impact <strong>of</strong> Race and Youth Cohort Size: An Analysis <strong>of</strong> Juvenile<br />

<strong>Drug</strong> Possession Arrest Rates. J <strong>Drug</strong> Issues. 2010;40(3):653–79.<br />

54. Cooper HLF, West B, L<strong>in</strong>ton S, Hunter-Jones J, Zlotorzynska M, Stall R, et al. Contextual Predictors<br />

<strong>of</strong> Injection <strong>Drug</strong> Use Among Black Adolescents and Adults <strong>in</strong> US Metropolitan Areas, 1993–2007.<br />

Am J Public Health. 2016 Mar;106(3):517–26.<br />

55. Fox AM, Rodriguez N. Us<strong>in</strong>g a crim<strong>in</strong>ally <strong>in</strong>volved population to exam<strong>in</strong>e the relationship between<br />

race/ethnicity, structural disadvantage, and methamphetam<strong>in</strong>e use. Crime Del<strong>in</strong>quency.<br />

2014;60(6):833–58.<br />

56. Frank D. “I was not sick and I didn’t need to recover”: Methadone Ma<strong>in</strong>tenance Treatment (MMT) as<br />

a refuge from crim<strong>in</strong>alization. Subst Use Misuse. 2018 Jan 28;53(2):311–22.<br />

57. Lilley DR. Did <strong>Drug</strong> Courts Lead to Increased Arrest and Punishment <strong>of</strong> M<strong>in</strong>or <strong>Drug</strong> Offenses? JQ<br />

Justice Q. 2017;34(4):674–98.<br />

58. Milam AJ, Furr-Holden CD, Harrell PT, Whitaker DE, Leaf PJ. Neighborhood disorder and juvenile<br />

drug arrests: a prelim<strong>in</strong>ary <strong>in</strong>vestigation us<strong>in</strong>g the NIfETy <strong>in</strong>strument. Am J <strong>Drug</strong> Alcohol Abuse.<br />

2012;38(6):598–602.<br />

59. Shepard EM, Blackley PR. <strong>The</strong> Impact <strong>of</strong> Marijuana Law Enforcement <strong>in</strong> an Economic Model <strong>of</strong><br />

Crime. J <strong>Drug</strong> Issues. 2007;37(2):403–24.<br />

60. Stemen D, Rengifo AF. Mandat<strong>in</strong>g treatment for drug possessors: <strong>The</strong> impact <strong>of</strong> Senate Bill 123 on<br />

the crim<strong>in</strong>al justice system <strong>in</strong> Kansas. J Crim Justice. 2009;37(3):296–304.<br />

61. Valdez A, Kaplan CD, Curtis RL. Aggressive Crime, Alcohol and <strong>Drug</strong> Use, and Concentrated Poverty<br />

<strong>in</strong> 24 U.S. Urban Areas. Am J <strong>Drug</strong> Alcohol Abuse. 2007 Jan 1;33(4):595–603.<br />

62. W<strong>in</strong>dsor L, Dunlap E, Armour M. Surviv<strong>in</strong>g Oppression under the Rock: <strong>The</strong> Intersection <strong>of</strong> New<br />

York’s <strong>Drug</strong>, Welfare, and Educational Polices <strong>in</strong> the Lived Experiences <strong>of</strong> Low-Income African<br />

Americans. J Ethn Subst Abuse. 2012;11(4):339–61.<br />

63. Pettus-Davis C, Scheyett AM, Hailey D, Gol<strong>in</strong> C, Wohl D. From the “Streets” To “Normal Life”:<br />

Assess<strong>in</strong>g the Role <strong>of</strong> Social Support <strong>in</strong> Release Plann<strong>in</strong>g for HIV-Positive and Substance-Involved<br />

Prisoners. J Offender Rehabil. 2009 Jul 1;48(5):367–87.<br />

64. Yu AF, Hope House Men And Alumni null. “Where we wanna be”: <strong>The</strong> role <strong>of</strong> structural violence and<br />

place-based trauma for street life-oriented Black men navigat<strong>in</strong>g recovery and reentry. Health Place.<br />

2018 Nov;54:200–9.<br />

65. Clark-Ansani A. <strong>The</strong> Unconstitutional Racial Animus Beh<strong>in</strong>d Federal Marijuana <strong>Crim<strong>in</strong>alization</strong><br />

[Internet]. <strong>The</strong> University <strong>of</strong> Chicago Law Review Onl<strong>in</strong>e. 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 23]. Available from:<br />

https://lawreviewblog.uchicago.edu/2022/07/29/clark-ansani-marijuana-decrim<strong>in</strong>alization/<br />

66. Hari J. Chas<strong>in</strong>g the Scream: <strong>The</strong> First and Last Days <strong>of</strong> the War on <strong>Drug</strong>s. Bloomsbury Publish<strong>in</strong>g<br />

USA; 2015. 401 p.<br />

67. Lassiter MD. Impossible Crim<strong>in</strong>als: <strong>The</strong> Suburban Imperatives <strong>of</strong> America’s War on <strong>Drug</strong>s. J Am<br />

Hist. 2015 Jun 1;102(1):126–40.<br />

68. Baum D. Legalize It All: A gunman kills 49 people with an AR-15 assault rifle at an Orlando nightclub;<br />

53 <strong>of</strong> 55

Dan Baum <strong>in</strong>vestigates whether gun-control laws could ever stop the weapon from proliferat<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Harper’s Magaz<strong>in</strong>e [Internet]. 2016 Apr 1 [cited 2022 Dec 23];April 2016. Available from: https://<br />

harpers.org/archive/2016/04/legalize-it-all/<br />

69. Cooper HL. War on drugs polic<strong>in</strong>g and police brutality. Subst Use Misuse. 2015;50(8–9):1–7.<br />

70. Guy M. Baltimore, MD – <strong>The</strong> Black Panther Party: History and <strong>The</strong>ory [Internet]. [cited 2022 Oct 3].<br />

Available from: https://wp.nyu.edu/gallat<strong>in</strong>-bpparchive2021/east-coast-chapters/baltimore-md/<br />

71. Joseph PE. Black Power at the Local Level. In: Neighborhood Rebels [Internet]. 1st ed. Palgrave<br />

Macmillan New York; 2010 [cited 2023 Jan 22]. p. 255. (Contemporary Black History). Available<br />

from: https://l<strong>in</strong>k.spr<strong>in</strong>ger.com/book/10.1057/9780230102309<br />

72. Mitchell O, Caudy MS. Exam<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g Racial Disparities <strong>in</strong> <strong>Drug</strong> Arrests. Justice Q. 2015 Mar<br />

4;32(2):288–313.<br />

73. Goudsward A. Crack vs. Hero<strong>in</strong>: 5 takeaways on the role <strong>of</strong> race <strong>in</strong> war on drugs. Asbury Park Press<br />

[Internet]. 2019 Dec 2 [cited 2022 Dec 23]; Available from: https://www.app.com/<strong>in</strong>-depth/news/<br />

<strong>in</strong>vestigations/2019/12/02/crack-hero<strong>in</strong>-five-takeaways-our-<strong>in</strong>vestigation-black-race-arrests<strong>in</strong>equities-sentenc<strong>in</strong>g/4302777002/<br />

74. Shannon M, Lisa Robyn K, Andrew G, Aust<strong>in</strong> B. CRACK VS. HEROIN: An unfair system arrested<br />

millions <strong>of</strong> blacks, urged compassion for whites [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2022 Dec 23]. Available from:<br />

https://www.app.com/<strong>in</strong>-depth/news/local/public-safety/2019/12/02/crack-hero<strong>in</strong>-race-arrestsblacks-whites/2524961002/<br />

75. Yoes S. <strong>The</strong> Legacy <strong>of</strong> Core. AFRO American Newspapers [Internet]. 2020 Aug 13 [cited 2022 Dec<br />

23]; Available from: https://afro.com/the-legacy-<strong>of</strong>-core/<br />

76. McDougall H. Black Baltimore. Temple University Press; 1993.<br />

77. Eana M. Dr. Mutulu Shakur and the L<strong>in</strong>coln Detox Center [Internet]. Of Part and Parcel. 2020 [cited<br />

2022 Oct 3]. Available from: https://www.<strong>of</strong>partandparcel.com/blog-2/dr-mutulu-shakur-and-thel<strong>in</strong>coln-detox-center<br />

78. Kun<strong>in</strong>s HV. Structural Racism and the Opioid Overdose Epidemic: <strong>The</strong> Need for Antiracist Public<br />

Health Practice. J Public Health Manag Pract. 2020 Jun;26(3):201–5.<br />

79. Sabol WJ, Baumann ML. Justice Re<strong>in</strong>vestment: Vision and Practice. Annu Rev Crim<strong>in</strong>ol.<br />

2020;3(1):317–39.<br />

80. Crim<strong>in</strong>al Justice Expenditures: Police, Corrections, and Courts [Internet]. Urban Institute. 2022<br />

[cited 2023 Feb 12]. Available from: https://www.urban.org/policy-centers/cross-center-<strong>in</strong>itiatives/<br />

state-and-local-f<strong>in</strong>ance-<strong>in</strong>itiative/state-and-local-backgrounders/crim<strong>in</strong>al-justice-police-correctionscourts-expenditures<br />

81. Roberts D. Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families--and How Abolition<br />

Can Build a Safer World. Basic Books; 2022. 351 p.<br />

82. Domoslawski A. <strong>Drug</strong> Policy <strong>in</strong> Portugal: <strong>The</strong> Benefits <strong>of</strong> Decrim<strong>in</strong>aliz<strong>in</strong>g <strong>Drug</strong> Use [Internet]. [cited<br />

2023 Feb 12]. Available from: https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/publications/drug-policyportugal-benefits-decrim<strong>in</strong>aliz<strong>in</strong>g-drug-use<br />

83. Pfaff J. Locked In: <strong>The</strong> True Causes <strong>of</strong> Mass Incarceration-and How to Achieve Real Reform. Basic<br />

Books; 2017. 353 p.<br />

84. Love D. Dayvon Love: Let’s kill the woke straw man argument [Internet]. <strong>Maryland</strong> Matters. 2023<br />

[cited 2023 Feb 12]. Available from: https://www.marylandmatters.org/2023/01/16/dayvon-lovelets-kill-the-woke-straw-man-argument/<br />

85. U.S. security services market size 2011-2022 [Internet]. Statista. [cited 2023 Feb 12]. Available from:<br />

https://www.statista.com/statistics/294206/revenue-<strong>of</strong>-security-services-<strong>in</strong>-the-us/<br />

86. Szalavitz M. Maia Szalavitz [Internet]. Maia Szalavitz. [cited 2023 Feb 12]. Available from: http://<br />

maiasz.com/<br />

87. Forman J. Lock<strong>in</strong>g Up Our Own [Internet]. Abacus; 2018 [cited 2023 Feb 12]. Available from:<br />

https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780374537449/lock<strong>in</strong>gupourown<br />

88. Bush RD. We are Not what We Seem: Black Nationalism and Class Struggle <strong>in</strong> the American Century.<br />

NYU Press; 1999. 332 p.<br />

89. Nobles W. Africanity and the Black Family. Oakland: A Black Family Institute; 1985.<br />

90. Kiefer E. Newark Outreach Workers Hit Streets To Help Stop <strong>Drug</strong> Overdoses. NJ Patch [Internet].<br />

2022 Jul 11 [cited 2023 Feb 12]; Available from: https://patch.com/new-jersey/newarknj/newarkoutreach-workers-hit-streets-help-stop-drug-overdoses<br />

91. Newark Community Street Team. About Us: Newark Community Street Team [Internet]. [cited 2023<br />

Feb 12]. Available from: https://www.newarkcommunitystreetteam.org/about-us/<br />

92. Grandpre L. Op<strong>in</strong>ion: Time to reconsider public health approaches to curb<strong>in</strong>g Baltimore’s gun<br />

54 <strong>of</strong> 55

violence [Internet]. the-baltimore-banner. 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 12]. Available from: https://<br />

www.thebaltimorebanner.com/op<strong>in</strong>ion/community-voices/op<strong>in</strong>ion-time-to-reconsider-publichealth-approaches-to-curb<strong>in</strong>g-violence-RXAL5X53FBDGPFKFS557NCPZSA/<br />

93. Okun T. White Supremacy Culture - Still Here [Internet]. White Supremacy Culture. [cited 2023 Feb<br />

12]. Available from: https://www.whitesupremacyculture.<strong>in</strong>fo/<br />

94. Middlebrook JA. Organiz<strong>in</strong>g a Ra<strong>in</strong>bow Coalition <strong>of</strong> Revolutionary Solidarity. J Afr Am Stud. 2019<br />

Dec 1;23(4):405–34.<br />

95. Mueller-Smith M, Almond D, Black SE, Cunn<strong>in</strong>gham S, Dogra K, F<strong>in</strong>lay K, et al. <strong>The</strong> Crim<strong>in</strong>al and<br />

Labor Market <strong>Impacts</strong> <strong>of</strong> Incarceration [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2023 Feb 12]. Available from: https://<br />

www.semanticscholar.org/paper/THE-CRIMINAL-AND-LABOR-MARKET-IMPACTS-OF-Mueller-<br />

Smith-Almond/74107152995e8f6889ed375e12dffe66fb66d2f2<br />

96. Li W, Lartey J. As Murders Spiked, Police Solved About Half <strong>in</strong> 2020. <strong>The</strong> Marshall Project<br />

[Internet]. 2020 [cited 2023 Feb 12]; Available from: https://www.themarshallproject.org/<br />

2022/01/12/as-murders-spiked-police-solved-about-half-<strong>in</strong>-2020<br />

97. Barkow RE. Prisoners <strong>of</strong> Politics: Break<strong>in</strong>g the Cycle <strong>of</strong> Mass Incarceration. Cambridge, MA: Belknap<br />

Press; 2021. 304 p.<br />

98. Bun MJG, Kelaher R, Sarafidis V, Weatherburn D. Crime, deterrence and punishment revisited.<br />

Empir Econ. 2020 Nov 1;59(5):2303–33.<br />

55 <strong>of</strong> 55

© 2023

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!