Healing Communities

For years, scientists, stoners and U.S. Federal Government officials have debated over the effects and use of marijuana. It is one of nature’s most mysterious and historical plants with over 480 chemical properties. The regulation of marijuana can be traced back to the early 1900’s when officials began to register the plant as a harmful and additive narcotic.

Marijuana was deemed illegal to be sold, imported or grown in America for any use, labeling marijuana as having “no medical use.” This had created marijuana prohibition and the war on drugs. As a result, marijuana prohibition disproportionally affected urban communities where blacks were more likely to be arrested than their white counterparts. Over the decades we witnessed communities failing, families destroyed and more investment in prison then in education.

In 2014 over 20,000 individuals where arrested for pot. Since the decriminalization of marijuana, that number has significantly dropped. Today we are in the age of prison and drug reform, meaning that, non-violent offenders who were arrested for marijuana may have a second chance at becoming productive members of society.

“Its time to implement reactive measures to begin the healing of communities and families within the movement of drug reform,” asserts Paul Tucker, CEO of ElixaCore, a Researched-based Pharmaceutical Company in Pennsylvania and an advocate for marijuana reform. “In order to be successful in our society, one must possess survival skills.”

Consequently, the survival skills of being able to read, write, verbal skills, and employment skills have remained throughout the ages. The vision of hope is based on the concept that every young adult should have a chance to develop to their fullest potential for growth. Community organizations, individuals and groups should implement service strategies which supportively promote strengthening and empowering individuals in positive community functioning and education.

Statistics indicate that the median household income of distressed urban community like North Philadelphia is about sixteen thousand dollars ($16,367) per year. Employment status of individuals age sixteen (16) and older indicates 34.5% are unemployed, while 56.8% are not in the labor force. These statistics certainly identify a community of despair. As a result of these factors, organizations are able to recognize that additional stress is placed on the families’ ability to function and survive as a healthy unit.

It is important to identify other social ills that could also create stress for the family unit. Organization can target populations of ex-offenders; that live in high crime neighborhoods, that there are few available resources in the community boundaries, that there is a high drop out of school attendance and that many ex-offenders are dealing with issues of drug convictions, addiction and chronic unemployment issues due to criminal records. As absent from the job market for long periods of time, these ex-offenders exhibit many barriers to economic self-sufficiency. Many within this population tend to be single parents and adult workers. Many display low self-confidence and self-esteem, lack social support systems, have low expectations, and often view themselves as victims of “the system.”

“Although there are still groups and individuals who are against marijuana reform, it is our obligation to educated the community of the economic and social benefits of regulated cannabis,” stated Tucker.

Like Tucker, community leaders must make efforts to improve the quality of life of young adults in the Re-entry process. This service can be best provided in a service delivery of education, training, mentoring, apprenticeship programs, social service support systems, and resource referrals.

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