Her name made the world headlines on past June 8. Democrat congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (known as AOC on Internet) launched a legislative proposal to knock down the ban on scientific investigations using psilocybin and MDMA in the USA.
The proposal is an amendment of a pre-existing bill about sources of funding for 2020. It would eliminate the concept that makes it illegal to use federal money “in any activity that promotes drug legalization or other substances included in the Banned Substances List I”. According to a reduced version of Cortez proposal, “academics and scientists inform that dispositions such as this one can stigmatize and create logistic obstacles insurmountable for the investigation of drugs from the I list”. In Denver, Colorado, consumption of hallucinogenic mushrooms, ayahuasca or ibogaine is already allowed.
Congresswoman Cortez’ proposals regarding drugs do not end there. On February 14 the congresswoman held a difficult appearance before the House of Representatives, in which she claimed there is a racial injustice related to the cannabis issue. Massive incarceration of latino or afro-descendant people for cannabis related crimes implies a social damage that translates into higher difficulties to find a job for the social groups affected. The same disadvantaged groups are later used by companies who benefit from cheap labour, and they are also excluded from entrepreneurial activities in an upcoming legalized scenario because of their criminal record. Furthermore, for the duration of imprisonment, some inmates are forced to work for slave wages thanks to American laws.
At the same time, we are witnessing the creation of an expensive licensing system that does not allow the social sectors that worked in marginalisation. This translates in the ownership of the most part of the related businesses being in the hands of white people, even if culturally they have not been an ethnic group with a customary consumption.
“Legalization is worsening the racial gap between companies run by whites that benefit from mass incarceration”, claimed the delegate. “Apparently, the people that were benefited by profit-driven incarceration also profit first from legalization of marijuana, while the communities that were hurt the most are the last ones to get their share. In the state of Massachusetts, only 3,1% of marijuana businesses in the state are owned by minority members, and 2.2% are owned by women. Is this industry representative of those communities that historically have suffered the most part of the injustice based on weed prohibition?”
Let us recall that the marijuana-related detentions rate in 2014 in New York city was four times higher for afro-descendants than for white people. The Bronx has one of the highest detentions for cannabis rate in the country. However, the afro-descendant owners of retail shop represent only 1% of the 3000 retail shops across the country.
That very week, AOC told TMZ that she would have no objection accepting a cannabis consumer as president. “I don’t care, it’s OK by me. You are not hurting anybody… I think people usually avoid this subject, but we need to accept that nothing inherent to marijuana is more damaging than other legal substances such as alcohol. Lots of people drink, What’s the difference?”, asked the congresswoman Cortez. “I’m glad that we are moving towards a fairer posture as a party and that we are moving not only to legalize marijuana but also to compensate for the damages caused by the War against Drugs and all the people who were unjustly incarcerated”.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Congresswoman of the USA
Born in 1989 into a working-class family in the Bronx of Puerto Rican descent, the young AOC studied Economy and International Relations in Yorktown. After finishing her degree, she found a job as an educational director. The economic crisis struck her family, a situation that forced her to take a part time job as a waitress to help her mother, who worked as a cleaning woman. Having gained experience working for Ted Kennedy, in 2016 she jumped into full-time politics participating in Bernie Sanders’ campaign.
After Trump’s victory, indignation spread amongst the democrat representatives. In May 2017, she ran as candidate to the NYC primaries, beating clearly one of the Democrat heavyweights. “I never imagined I would run for public office on my own. I despised the possibility because I thought I did not have a chance. I felt like the only way to run for public office was to have access to wealth and social influence and I didn’t have any of that”, she asserted in a New York Magazine interview.
Her strategy has been based in constant references to the party’s base, her public message and her presence in social media in pure millennial style. Committed to the New Green Deal and the ecologists, the 28-years old congresswoman is all the rage on the Internet where hundreds of fans wait for her weekly home cooking video.