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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pot Legalization a Civil Rights Issue?

From the most recent article at my CAIVN column:

California proponents of the Tax Cannabis initiative are creating a broad and diverse coalition of support, including the official endorsement of California NAACP President Alice Huffman. "In California African Americans make up 7 percent of the population, but 22 percent of the marijuana arrests," Huffman says...

Indeed the civil rights aspect of marijuana legalization takes on a poignant historical character in light of circumstances surrounding its prohibition...

Read the whole article here.


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  1. Those types of Statistics always make me suspicious. Could it be that 22% of the Canabis users are Black? Maybe. Could it be that 22% of the Canabis users who get caught while in the commission of some other act are black. Could be. Could it be that 22% of the Canabis users who get caught because of where and how they buy it be black? hmmm. Maybe 22% more african americans get nabbed by the po-po for smoking weed because there are more cops in crime ridden neighborhoods and busting people for a bit of herb is just easy.

    I doubt very seriously the policy is such that it targest a specific demographic. No one seems to think that just because more Asians are mathematicians that Algebra must be a racist field of study. The policy is not what is racial, the culture is what promotes the use of weed, and the consequence is that as it is currently illegal, and as more cops patrol areas where it is used more frequently, certain demographics get busted more least that sounds more reassonable to me.

    All that being said, hey if you want to be stoned out of your mind, that is fine, as long as you are not scheduled to do my surgery, driving an 18 wheeler, welding my suspension up on my car, etc. If you want to toast your brain go right ahead. Just don't expect me to pay your bills, not shoot you in the head if you come around trying to steal from me, or otherwise do anything to lessen my freedom or safety.

  2. Kook I couldn’t agree more here. I am sick of hearing about how certain demographics are targeted more than others. Pot is an issue for all races as are many other drugs. I agree also that it should be their choice. I personally don’t choose to use but if you want to then you should be able to. Need I bring up the historical fact of how prohibition created one of the worst criminally infested times in American history? It is human nature to want to do something more if you’re emphatically told not to.

    How bout we stop spending so much time and money on trying to stop a problem that is getting worse and allow these people to do it. In the grand scheme of things how is it any worse than alcohol? All we are doing by stopping drugs is creating a demand and in turn lining the pockets of some really bad individuals.

  3. Good article Wes but I have to disagree somewhat.

    Cannabis prohibition is a civil rights issue but it affects the civil rights of all Americans, not just the minority community.

    Certainly minorities are disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition but that is caused more by where law enforcement is focused and how different social groups use the substance.

    More affluent smokers tend to be less out in the open about their drug use and generally restrict their use to their homes while less affluent people are more out in the open and are more visible to law enforcement.

    Also while Anslinger and his cronies, like Hearst, used the print media to demonize blacks and Mexicans, films such as Reefer Madness, Assassin of Youth and Marihuana we targeting white users.

    I just think that narrowing the discussion takes away from many of the more valid arguments against prohibition and gives the opposition a counterpoint to use.

  4. Extremely good comment Chris. That was a more eloquent way of saying hat I was thinking.

  5. KOOK, if more black Americans use pot than white Americans, then the law (intentionally or not) targets an ethnic demographic for a peaceful, private decision. We could take any other peaceful, personal habit that is statistically more prevalent in another ethnic group and outlaw it tomorrow- imagine if we outlawed kimchi, as a Korean American, I would feel ethnically targeted and I think I would be justified in that feeling.

    But I definitely agree with everyone here that pot smoking is a civil rights issue in a bigger sense for a bigger reason- choosing what to do with your own body regardless of your race is a civil right.


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