Even before Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs fifty years ago, our nation’s drug laws have disproportionately harmed people of color and the poor generally. Drug use rates are virtually identical across racial lines, yet Black and Brown communities are much more likely to suffer arrests, prosecutions, and imprisonment. And you hardly ever hear of wealthy Americans facing severe legal consequences for their drug use, even with multiple law enforcement encounters that would likely lead everyday folks to prison sentences. The last cannabis arrest report by the New York Police Department (NYPD) of the Empire State’s prohibition era shows the immense racial disparities of the law and really shine a light on why our nation needs to completely end the Drug War, as Marijuana Moment reported:
“Of the 3,687 possession-related summons issued from January through the end of March, for example, 2,374 were issued to black people, 1,089 were for hispanic people and just 102 were for white people. When it comes to arrests, 78 targeted black people, 70 involved hispanic people and just six white people were arrested for cannabis.
“That’s despite the fact that rates of consumption are comparable across those races.
“Put another way, black and hispanic people accounted for 94 percent of the total marijuana summonses and 91 percent of cannabis arrests in New York City last quarter—a rate that is greatly disproportionate to the racial makeup of the city’s population.”
Thankfully, New York has now legalized, eliminating most future cannabis arrests, but these racially disproportionate drug enforcement actions carry across all types of drugs. Clearly, the status quo of arresting and jailing people for personal drug possession has not worked. We need a new health-based approach, instead of a costly and harmful policy based on punishment people. Oregon has helped lead the way and important decriminalization laws have gained traction in other states such as California and Maine. While some prohibitionists want to go backwards and repeal our progress, we can’t let that happen. We need to invest in our people, not more prisons.
Celebrate cannabis freedom and our great state leading the fight against the Drug War by enjoying the best selection in the Great Northwest at Kind Leaf, Pendleton’s premier craft cannabis boutique. Come visit the store or order online via Leafly.