The War On Drugs Is Still Targeting People Of Color
Under the Trump administration, the War on Drugs seems to be back in full force. Earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he is rescinding the Obama-era policy that let legal weed flourish across the country. Sessions’ actions all but encourage federal law enforcement agencies to get involved in marijuana business in states where it is legal.
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In the past, some have suggested that the War on Drugs is actually a cover for a racial war against minorities in the United States.
It’s no secret that marijuana prohibition began, in part, due to racial fear. Back in the 30s, The Great Depression created mistrust and hatred of groups considered to be ‘different’ to the American norm. This included a large group of Mexican immigrants who smoked marijuana. By demonizing the plant they smoked, certain groups were able to demonize them as well. This is a trend that has been seen time and again in United States history.
It’s a trend that seems to be coming back around today. In 2016, more people were arrested for simple marijuana possession in the United States than all violent crime combined. Petty marijuana crimes account for over 80% of all marijuana crimes in the country and a disproportionate amount of people arrested are people of color. African Americans are an astounding 375% more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite the known fact that African Americans and white people use marijuana at the same rate.
Marijuana legalization hasn’t necessarily helped African Americans either. States that have legalized are seeing huge booms in their respective cannabis industries, from which African Americans are largely excluded. In Colorado, marijuana arrests of white people have plummeted, however, arrests of African Americans and Latinos have actually increased as much as 50%.
Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use. The marijuana industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the US. Moving forward, it’s important for the industry to have a focus on inclusivity, despite the actions being taken by the federal government.
The Trump administration may be trying to bring back the War on Drugs, but the cannabis landscape in the US has matured exponentially since the 1930s. Now, Americans have the power to fight back against the racial aspects of the Trump administration’s attitude towards marijuana.