Enjoyed your 4/20?
Great. Now let's get real:
Black Americans are STILL arrested for possession at 3.64 times the rate of white Americans even in states that have legalized marijuana. In 10 states Black people were found to be arrested at 5 times the rate.
In 2018 there were almost 700,000 marijuana arrests. This accounted for at least 43% of all drug arrests. That's more than heroin, cocaine, meth, etc. On average it costs $3.6 Billion a year to enforce marijuana laws. These laws have done nothing to actually keep weed out of the hands of American citizens. So why, you may ask, do our policing and governing forces continue to invest so much time into
making these arrests?
Systemic Racism *gasps in shock*
New Federal Bureau of Investigation data shows that marijuana arrests dropped by more than a third in the U.S. last year as both the COVID-19 pandemic and the legalization movement spread. Still, there was a cannabis bust every 90 seconds on average, and an arrest for drugs in general every 27 seconds.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said the state’s new marijuana market will create “thousands and thousands of jobs.”
“So count me in as an ally—someone who’s going to be there for you.”
Florida’s Senate minority leader filed a bill that would require the state to study the medical benefits of psychedelics such as psilocybin and MDMA.
The Massachusetts legislature’s Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use & Recovery held a hearing on bills to decriminalize drugs and allow safe consumption sites where people could consume illegal substances under medical supervision.
There are many advances that are happening in our country toward legalization; however, the school to prison pipeline keeps private prisons
filled. This ensures there is free labor at all times in our country.
I believe one of the biggest factors is that White
Americans own 81% of the cannabis businesses. Black people own 4%. Interesting how we were taught to associate marijuana with black men in Durags and sagging pants rather than White men in Sperry's, a RL button up, and a backwards baseball cap starting businesses with a small loan of $1,000,000.
America has intentionally worked to keep wealth out of the hands of people of color. Now White America makes billions in profits while my brothers and sisters sit in jail for trying to do the same. Even after it's been legalized, the mountains of paperwork will take years
to process these releases and expunge those records.
Some may say, “well they shouldn’t have done it when it was illegal”. You’re absolutely right. Yet how did poor black and brown communities get there hands on coccaine and guns? Ask the War on Drugs.
John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s former Domestic Policy Advisor, said this:
“You want to know what this was really all about? The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or blacks, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
In 1972 President Nixon's National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse concluded that, "there is little proven danger of physical or psychological harm from the experimental or intermittent use of natural preparations of cannabis." Despite the fact that it had been established in the hopes of finding fuel for just the opposite conclusion, the commission recommended the decriminalization of marijuana for personal use. Nixon ignored the recommendation.
In 1982 the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine found that, "over the last forty years marijuana has been accused of causing an array of anti-social effects including: provoking crime and violence, leading to heroin addiction, and destroying the American work ethic in young people. These beliefs have not been substantiated by scientific
We send Black people to jail for nonviolent crimes for sentences that are statistically 50% longer than white people. They work hard FOR FREE making our underwear, socks, appliances, etc. They are then released and told to pick themselves up by the bootstraps they just made in jail. They then can't get a job anywhere to provide for their families. This means they cannot afford insurance for the therapy that is necessary to process the trauma of being sucked into the prison system. And then what? Your assumption that most of these people were selling drugs illegally is your first clue that you need to have a real conversation with yourself about your prejudice. There are stories of Black men getting 20+ years for possessing half a joint. Not distributing. Just chilling after a hard day of being a Black man in America. No one goes after the white friend he may have gotten it from. Now the world sees him as a criminal worthy of being tossed aside.
A 2021 analysis of marijuana related arrests in 2020 in New York City's five boroughs reported that people of color comprised 94 percent of those arrested.
A 2021 analysis from the Milwaukee County,
Wisconsin District Attorney's Office reported that Black Wisconsinites were 4.3 times more likely than their white counterparts to be convicted for having marijuana. The worst disparities in Wisconsin are in Ozaukee County where Black people are 34.9 times more likely to be arrested, and Manitowoc County where Black people are 29.9 times more likely to be arrested.
The 2020 analysis by the American Civil Liberties Union that found that Black people are 3.64 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession found that the usage rates were about the same.
Authors reported, "In every single state, Black people were more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, and in some states, Black people were up to six, eight, or almost ten times more likely to be arrested. In 31 states, racial disparities were actually larger in 2018 than they were in 2010.
"According to a 2020 analysis by The Washington Post, between 2015 and 2019, there were 3,631 marijuana arrests in the District of Columbia. Eighty-nine percent of those arrested were Black, even as they make up only 45 percent of the city's population.”
Another 2020 analysis had this to say: "We conducted an analysis of cannabis arrest data obtained from police services in five Canadian cities (Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Ottawa, Halifax) to determine whether racial differences exist in rates of arrest for minor cannabis possession in Canada. With just one
exception, we find that both Black and Indigenous people are over-represented amongst those arrested for cannabis possession across the five cities examined."
In Albany, NY from July 9, 2019 - July 9, 2020 97% of marijuana arrests were Black. Only FOUR white people were arrested for marijuana possession. So while white America goes to a replica of the Apple Store to purchase its weed, Black men, women, and children are STILL being arrested for what white corporate America is deepening its pockets with. Corporations built by funding from banks established with the wealth of slavery and cotton. Much like how 3/4 of fashion trends began in a black/brown community and was considered “ghetto” until a white fashion label slapped a $4,000 price tag on it without crediting its origins and benefiting the people who created it.
What can you do?
1. Educate Yourself
2. Online Organizations you can support from home:
3. Contact your local media outlets to do more
coverage on this issue.
4. Contact local representatives in your local
5. Talk to your friends and family about marijuana.
6. VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE AND VOTE.