Marijuana prohibition: It’s a race issue

The Economic Side of Politics

In our political system today, many people and politicians focus on social issues reaching into all corners of our lives. One particular issue, however, has yet to grab the full attention of the mainstream: marijuana prohibition.

The issue of marijuana prohibition is not just marijuana itself, it is an issue of de facto racism and equality in our economy, and it is time we hold our leaders accountable for harming countless innocent individuals.

Dylan Ratigan, a former host of The Dylan Ratigan Show on MSNBC, reported that even though whites and blacks use marijuana at about the same rate, blacks are ten times as likely to be arrested and incarcerated.

“There are more blacks under correctional control today — in prison or jail, on probation or parole — than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began,” Ratigan said.


The U.S. has the highest incarceration ratein the world due to its failing drug policy, with its rate being higher than that of communist China, Russia, and Iran, all nation states who have terrible human rights records.

It is not only those in prison whose lives are being ruined, but taxpayers are also throwing away billions of dollars on prisons. In 2007 alone, $74 billion in taxpayer dollars went to the prison system.

In my opinion, as I wrote in the Eagle back in April, we should legalize marijuana for recreational use and create a legal market in which it can be sold, just the same as alcohol. The benefits are overwhelming, and continued prohibition really doesn’t help anyone in the long run.

For those who claim legalization is too drastic of a step, even decriminalization of marijuana has shown to help drastically lower arrest rates and those in prison for possessing small amounts of marijuana. In Massachusetts the arrest rate for marijuana possession fell 90 percent after they decriminalized small amounts of marijuana. Decriminalization, however, didn’t solve the racial disparity in arrests, proving that there is de facto racism within the justice system when it comes to drug arrests.

This extreme form of racism is a cancer within our society, and it is ruining the lives of countless innocent individuals across our nation.

John Foti is a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs.

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