By John Payne
James E. Fisher correctly urges readers to consider the moral implications of marijuana legalization, but I think his article gives an incomplete picture of the moral considerations at play.
Under cannabis prohibition, around 20,000 people are arrested for possession of cannabis every year in Missouri. These individuals often receive criminal records that impede their ability to go to college, rent an apartment and get a job. I find that to be immoral.
Blacks are more than 2 1/2 times more likely to be arrested for a cannabis offense than whites in Missouri, despite using marijuana at similar rates. That disparate enforcement has contributed to the United States incarcerating black men at a rate higher than that of apartheid South Africa. I find that unconscionable.
The state of Missouri has imprisoned Jeff Mizanskey of Sedalia for nearly 20 years for a nonviolent cannabis offense. Unless his sentence is commuted by the governor or state law is changed to free him, he will die behind bars, as he was sentenced to life without parole for marijuana. That is barbaric and unbefitting of a civilized society.
I could go on about how it is wrong to persecute cancer and AIDS patients who use medical cannabis and how cannabis prohibition has helped fund Mexican drug cartels, who are responsible for over 60,000 deaths since 2006. My point, however, is a simple one: We should view cannabis legalization as a moral issue, because cannabis prohibition has shown itself to be both ineffective and evil.