There simply is no longer a sufficient public safety rationale to continue to criminalize marijuana, and there probably never was.
By David Todd McCarty | Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Even if you believe that marijuana is a potentially harmful substance, there is no rational public safety argument for continuing to criminalize a drug that ranks far below both alcohol and nicotine for it’s potential to inflict bodily harm or at least poor decisions, and yet has caused incredible devastation to disadvantaged communities and those of color due to it’s criminalization.
We gave up on the prohibition of alcohol nearly a century ago, and we never even bothered to do so with tobacco. The war on drugs began in the 1930’s but was codified into law by Nixon in the early 1970’s as part of his law and order push to criminalize the anti-war Left and Blacks. Carter tried to decriminalize marijuana in 1977 but by the 1980’s Reagan had refocused on drugs as a national scourge and began instituting mandatory minimums in response to crack, an obvious racist response. This has all been well-documented and can be read about elsewhere. I’m not interested in arguing about factual history.
Since the official beginning of the War on Drugs in the 1980s, the number of people incarcerated for drug offenses in the U.S. skyrocketed from 40,900 in 1980 to 452,964 in 2017. Today, there are more people behind bars for a drug offense than the number of people who were in prison or jail for any crime in 1980.1
In 2001, it was estimated that one in three Black men would be incarcerated at some point over the course of their lifetime, compared with one in six Latino men, and one in seventeen white men. White women were one in 111, while Black women were one in eighteen.
We do not dispense justice equally in America. People of color make up 37% of the population but make up 67% of the prison population. Overall, African Americans are more likely than white Americans to be arrested; once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted; and once convicted, they are more likely to face stiff sentences. Black men are six times as likely to be incarcerated as white men and Hispanic men are more than twice as likely to be incarcerated as non-Hispanic white men.
Your pathetic concern that marijuana might not be healthy for everyone is simply not a good enough reason to continue to decimate communities because you’re afraid little Johnny might smoke a jay in college.
It’s time to end the charade of pious sanctity and cruel indifference. The nanny state that Republicans are always going on about is the one that doesn’t believe adults of free will should be allowed to escape reality for a time of their own choosing. What business is it of yours if someone wants to check out for the evening, or the morning for that matter?
We have laws in place that dictate levels of responsibility regarding drugs and alcohol. You can’t be drunk and drive a car, bus or plane. You can’t be taking high octane pain killers while operating heavy machinery. You can however enjoy a three-martini lunch before voting on laws that govern the country, so it’s clearly not an absolute rule.
The truth is, we don’t care if you’re using nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, or even hard core pharmaceuticals as long as the government is getting a cut, along with those corporations who pay off government officials for protectionist policies. We call it lobbying. It’s very legit.
As Todd Snyder says, “It’s not what drugs you’re strung out on they care about, so much as whose.”