Prisoners of marijuana…

Many people celebrated the stoner holiday of 4/20 yesterday. I’m almost positive all of the participants woke up today, unless they passed overnight from some other type of illness or complication. Marijuana to date has caused no birth defects, no overdoses, and no person to eat someone’s face off on the beaches of Miami (true story). Marijuana has been made legal in 11 states recreationally, and 33 medically. If my math is correct marijuana is legal, at some capacity, in 44 of 50 states. So why are people of color in the United States arrested at a much higher rate for selling or possession of a drug that is actually more helpful than harmful (research has actually proven this statement to be true).

This article uses visuals, specifically graphs, to show the number of people arrested for possession of marijuana in the United States, during certain years, and even compares it to the number of people arrested for possession of other controlled substances. Some of the years there are more people arrested for marijuana, which again has recorded no deaths due to overdose, than other deadly drugs. This article does touch on a good point, that arrests don’t equal sentences. However, once you are arrested you are put into the system and sometimes have to spend days in a county jail because you aren’t able to post bail. Is that really necessary for non-violent, [legal in some state] drug offenders?

This article from USA Today discusses how people of color are being placed in jail for non-violent drug offenses at a much higher rate than white drug dealers. It also points out that the amount of revenue made from the legal marijuana business is in the hundreds of millions and most of the people benefiting from that profit are white business owners. The opportunity to be a legal marijuana distributor aren’t as plentiful for people of color and seeing the incarceration rates that is something that needs to be discussed and changed.

Ultimately, I do believe that anyone who was convicted and sentenced for a non-violent marijuana charge in a state that marijuana is legal should be released and their record wiped clean. I personally know people who have a felony record for selling marijuana and haven’t been able to do things like vote, get a good job, or a place to live because of it. They aren’t even able to receive federal financial aid to continue their education once released from prison leaving them to low paying jobs and unsafe living conditions. If an industry is making hundreds of millions of dollars in the past few years alone, maybe they can find careers for inmates released after doing hard time for a crime that brought no harm or foul to any person.

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