authors@MIT presents "Waiting to Inhale: Cannabis Legalization & the Fight for Racial Justice"

Wednesday, May 03, 2023 at 5:30pm to 7:00pm

Building 14, The Nexus, 14S-130 (or online)
160 MEMORIAL DR, Cambridge, MA 02139

From the start, the War on Drugs targeted Black, Brown, and Indigenous Americans already disadvantaged by a system stacked against them. Even now, as white Americans who largely escaped the fire capitalize on the legalization movement and a booming cannabis industry, their less fortunate peers continue to suffer the consequences of the systemic racism in policing and failed drug policy that fueled the original crisis. In Waiting to Inhale, Akwasi Owusu-Bempah and Tahira Rehmatullah issue a powerful call for a racial reckoning and provide a roadmap to redress this deep and abiding injustice.

Waiting to Inhale illuminates the stories of those on the front lines of the War on Drugs—the individuals and communities disproportionately harmed, sometimes seemingly beyond repair; the official and social forces ranged against them; and the victims, legal and political activists, and cannabis entrepreneurs who are fighting back. As attitudes toward cannabis are shifting, now is the opportune time, Owusu-Bempah and Rehmatullah submit, to expunge cannabis convictions and make a place in the burgeoning legal cannabis market for Black and other underrepresented groups who have borne the brunt of harsh cannabis laws.

A powerful indictment of one of the worst social and political failures in the nation's history, Waiting to Inhale offers an equally powerful vision of the possibility of redemption. Communities can be rebuilt, and racist policies must be overturned in order to give way to a new era of justice.

About the speakers:

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto, an Affiliate Scientist at Canada's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and the Director of Research for the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty.

A partner at Highlands Venture Partners, Cofounder and CEO of Commons, and member of the board of directors for Akerna Corp. and the Last Prisoner Project, Tahira Rehmatullah is often referred to in the trade press as “the most powerful woman in cannabis.”

Nina N. Harris is an equity and violence prevention advocate, educator, and restorative justice practitioner and serves as the Restorative Resolution Coordinator in MIT's Institute Discrimination and Harassment Response Office.

About the event:

Copies of Waiting to Inhale will be available for purchase on site.

This will be a hybrid event; login information for Zoom participants will be included in your confirmation email when you register. The in-person event will be in The Nexus. The Nexus is situated on the first floor of MIT's Hayden Library, MIT's Building 14, located at 160 Memorial Drive. The room is on the river side of the library reading room, behind the Courtyard Cafe and across the room from the library service desk. If you have trouble finding it please ask at the service desk.

Accessibility: Our events are enriched by your presence and we are committed to making them accessible. Assistive listening devices are available in The Nexus, but please email to request any other accommodations.

Event Type

Community Event

Events By Interest

Academic, Diversity/Inclusion, General

Events By Audience

MIT Community





MIT Libraries, MIT Press Bookstore, The MIT Press
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