Smoking Marijuana – OK for Elites but Illegal for Others

Posted By Levi

January 3rd, 2014 2:31pm

Category: Justice

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Yesterday Colorado became the first state to legalize the sale of marijuana to residents for recreational use. Washington State is set to do as well in a few months and other states might follow. There is quite a bit of genuine concern being expressed about the possible negative consequences of this measure. It might cause health risks and encourage more people to use the drug.

However, as Adam Serwer points out, there doesn’t’ seem to be much concern about the consequences of our current drug policies that turned millions of Americans, especially young black men, into criminals simple for possessing and/or using marijuana. Our last three presidents – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, all admitted to smoking weed at one time another and all three presided over a system that imposed harsh punishment for marijuana use.

This morning two respected journalists, David Brooks and Ruth Marcus admitted to smoking marijuana as well during their youth, and like the three presidents mentioned, prefer the drug to remain illegal.

Keeping marijuana illegal means that people will go to jail if they are caught with it. It is quite ok for members of the elites to smoke marijuana while demanding that it remains illegal because they know they will never go to jail for smoking pot if they are caught. Not so for young black men.

Serwer points out:

“Anyone who wants to see what a de facto legalization environment looks like can visit an elite college campus, where both the trade and use of marijuana are highly visible, and where those who get caught face the relatively minor sanctions associated with breaking campus rules rather than the lifelong consequences of breaking the law.”

But the consequences for Blacks were made clear by Michelle Alexander in her excellent book, The New Jim Crow.

“ . . the consequences of being convicted of felony marijuana possession can be far more dire than the sentence itself. Former offenders can find themselves deprived of professional or driver’s licenses, educational aid, food stamps, public housing, their right to vote, and they may find themselves fired and unable to find new employment, having been marked by society as little more than a criminal. For blacks caught up in the system it can compound the already considerable effects of ongoing racial discrimination

And to drive the point home,MSNBC Chris Haynes points to this as his favorite chart for 2013.

Although black people and white people use marijuana at the same rate, black people are much more likely to be arrested for possessing it.

marijuna arrests

So, what we basically have now is a system where marijuana is practically legal for the wealthy and white and illegal for everyone else.

Twitter: @Levianthony123

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