MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – The Alabama Democratic Party has launched a “Free Weed” website to support its effort to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in the state.
The site, www.FreeWeedAL.com, argues that prosecutions for small amounts of cannabis are a waste of criminal justice resources and have disproportionately affected communities of color. The party argued legalizing marijuana could also bring economic benefits to the state.
“Alabama’s Republican politicians seem hellbent on wasting money criminalizing ordinary people, ruining lives in the process,” state Rep. Chris England, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, said in a statement.
He added that, “criminalizing cannabis doesn’t make us safer.”
The site is a mix of policy advocacy and promotion for the state Democratic Party and its candidates this year. It includes statistics about marijuana prosecutions as well as links to donate to the state party, register to vote and to volunteer to help candidates. It also has “Free Weed” t-shirts and other merchandise for sale.
Alabama Republican Party Chairman John Wahl called the site “a stunt.”
“The Alabama Republican Party supports traditional family values. It’s important to us that our society and our families stay safe, strong, and healthy. The recreational use of marijuana does not encourage these principles,” Wahl said in a statement.
Eighteen states have legalized the recreational use of small amounts of marijuana for adults, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, although none of those are in the Deep South. Twenty-seven states have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, meaning violations are generally a civil or local infraction instead of a crime.
The Alabama Democratic Party announced the site on April 20, also known as 4/20, a date that’s become associated with celebrating marijuana.
The Republican-dominated Alabama legislature has approved a medical marijuana program but rejected efforts to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.