09.30.2016
policy

#blacklivesmatter—and That's One More Reason to Legalize Weed

Everybody paying attention to weed politics knows by now that black people are basically four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people, with Latinos being twice as susceptible to possession arrests as whites. These discrepancies in arrest rates inaccurately reflect the fact that whites, blacks, and Latinos use marijuana in equal measures.

However, these arrest variances are accurate in reflecting the role of marijuana criminalization in priming people of color for incarceration, again at rates far beyond those of white counterparts.

A new short film, produced by Brave New Films in conjunction with Californians for Responsible Marijuana Reform and Drug Policy Alliance, details the role of marijuana laws in filling prisons with people who are far more often than not not white. Some news outlets report the film's title as “It’s Not Legal Yet: Why We Must Legalize Marijuana in California." As presented above, the educational clip is titled "Marijuana: The Gateway Drug to Incarcerating People of Color." By any name, the film is being presented as a promotional asset in the campaign to pass California's Prop 64 at the ballot this November. 

An organization of professionals who safeguard public health as their job has astutely endorsed Prop 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, as "significantly better for public health and safety than the broken status quo."

Part of that broken status quo is the criminalization of targeted population segments through criminalizing a plant that is widely consumed throughout all levels of U.S. society. Voting yes and passing Prop 64 by no means addresses all the pressing issues raised by #blacklivesmatter, but if normalizing weed keeps more black and Hispanic people living on the streets rather than behind bars, it's a solid step in a correct direction.

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