Thanks to everyone who sent me well-wishes last month. Baby Ava is doing great and despite being incredibly busy, I’m enjoying every second of it. Here are a few items on my mind these days:
– I just finished reading Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow“, an incredibly well-researched and well-argued book that explains how the war on drugs has created a new form of racial segregation very similar to the original Jim Crow laws of the south. The racial separation in the drug war comes from having much higher levels of drug law enforcement in black communities along with differences in prosecutorial discretion and the inability of many black drug defendant to adequately defend themselves from even totally bogus charges. The end result is a mass incarceration crisis with hundreds of thousands of black Americans saddled with felony convictions for the kinds of small-time drug violations that whites are almost never charged with.
I had this in mind as I heard the news today that THC was found in Trayvon Martin’s system after he was murdered. For a 17-year-old to have THC in his system is far from unusual, about a quarter of all teenagers have used pot in the past month. But because Martin was a young black man using marijuana, the likelihood of him being saddled with a felony for making that choice is significantly higher than it is for a white teenager. And once you’re saddled with that felony, finding employment, housing, and education becomes nearly impossible for the rest of your life. As Alexander points out in her book, people in that situation have all the doors of opportunity closed on them and usually fall into a criminal lifestyle and return to prison. The reality that her book should make clear is that even if George Zimmerman hadn’t ended Trayvon Martin’s life that night, there’s a good likelihood the war on drugs would’ve done it a short time later.
– I don’t think the lawsuit against the liquor privatization initiative has much of a chance of succeeding, but if it did, it would be really bad news for I-502, which also appears to do the “two separate things” that the liquor privatization initiative does. And for good measure, I-502 does a third thing, establish new DUI per se limits for marijuana. But again, I don’t expect this lawsuit to be successful. And as for the DUI issue, the Colorado legislature once again failed to pass a bill that would establish a 5ng/ml limit because of concerns over its lack of scientific backing.
– Scott Morgan has been wondering whether or not Romney would be worse for medical marijuana than Obama has been. As bad as Obama has been (and he’s been terrible), I could certainly envision Romney being worse. Particularly when it comes to U.S. Attorney appointments. Jenny Durkan hasn’t been as aggressive as some of Obama’s other USA’s in going after state-sanctioned medical marijuana distribution. Under Romney, it’s possible we could find someone far less progressive in that post. But it’s also possible he’d tap a progressive Republican in the Dan Satterberg mold. For those of us who actually want the DOJ to respect state marijuana laws, Gary Johnson is likely our only hope.