The war on marijuana has largely been a war on minorities. African Americans are almost four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana compared to white people, even though consumption rates are about the same between races. There are parts of America where that ratio is even more skewed against African Americans. Marijuana prohibition breeds racial profiling, and therefore organizers of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement want to see marijuana decriminalized. Tom Angell recently wrote about it on Marijuana.Com:
Activists leading the fight to stop the killing of African Americans by police officers unveiled a series of policy proposals on Friday aimed at converting the attention the Black Lives Matter movement has generated into fundamental reforms that could transform the way law enforcement interacts with the communities it is charged with serving and protecting.
Included among the recommendations from the new effort, Campaign ZERO, is the federal and state decriminalization of marijuana. Specifically, the group is endorsing a bill in Congress, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015. The legislation, sponsored by California Republican Dana Rohrabacher, would amend the Controlled Substances Act so that its penalties wouldn’t apply to anyone acting in accordance with state marijuana laws.
Decriminalization is great, but legalization is better. Statistics have shown that racial disparities in enforcement still exist even when marijuana has been decriminalized. With that being said, decriminalization is certainly better than prohibition, and is a great step in the right direction. I hope that the Black Lives Matter movement continues to push for marijuana reform. It’s one of the biggest and quickest ways to help end discrimination by law enforcement against people of color.