Stephen Gutwillig gets to the real heart of the matter:
How can the notion that marijuana is “here to stay” coexist with these rates of marijuana arrests? Apparently because the people caught in the crossfire aren’t considered part of the mainstream. In California, African-Americans are three times as likely as whites to be arrested for a pot crime, according to the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice. If you’re young and nonwhite, you are especially targeted.
The increase in marijuana possession arrests of California teenagers of color since 1990 is quadruple that group’s population growth.
In New York City, blacks and Latinos — who represent about half the city’s population — accounted for 86 percent of everyone charged with pot possession in 2008. The NYCLU report says federal studies show young whites use marijuana at higher rates than blacks and Latinos.
Supporters of marijuana prohibition often argue that few possession busts lead to incarceration. First, that argument ignores the countless parolees and probationers sent back to jail and prison nationwide for failing drug tests or being caught with a joint. And it seriously diminishes the lifelong stigma any criminal conviction has for many young people of color, whose educational and professional opportunities are severely curtailed as a result of racist enforcement.
[via Pete Guither]