It is popular to say that marijuana was made illegal because of racism. The truth is marijuana was first banned in a military hospital in Mexico City in 1882, where it was used to treat pain, in an effort to prevent violence and disorder. Mexico then banned all production, sales and recreational use in 1920, and export in 1927. This was a result of Egyptian officials asking the international community to join in a treaty to make it illegal around the globe in 1925. It wasn’t until 1985, some 60 years later, that a book by a U.S. author referred to marijuana laws as racist.
Any claims that marijuana is illegal in America because of racism are in conflict with history.
Will more pot shops in our neighborhoods and marijuana in our homes really reduce incarceration rates and improve the quality of life for minorities? We don’t think so. Marijuana is an equal opportunity destroyer. And we know every brain matters.
Thought Provoking Facts
The facts show that even under legalized marijuana, the poor and minority communities suffer the worst outcomes. For instance, after Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, minority teens were arrested in greater numbers for marijuanaviolations. Pot shops are disproportionately situated in impoverished communities, in Colorado, also. Clearly, making the residents more susceptible to high use rates and addiction. In Denver, as an example, pot shops are heavily concentrated in Hispanic communities. This sends the message to the youth that drugs are harmless, which we know is not the case. Combine struggling schools with drug abuse and student grades are sure to plummet. We know that amotivational syndrome, a harmful side effect of pot, will cause poor educational outcomes and lead to more school dropouts. More access to this psychoactive drug will increase violence, addiction and theft, all of which have high arrest rates.
The link between marijuana use and crime is also downplayed by those who promote legalization. Industry lobbyists also tell us the the black market will disappear when marijuana is legally available. However, in legalized states, we are seeing an increase in gang activity, crime and black market sales.
What Does the Evidence Show?
Contrary to the social justice claims of the legalization activists, prison populations are rising in states where marijuana is legal and sanctioned for recreational use. Project SAM depicts these trends very clearly in these illustrated graphs for Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia.
William Jones III fought against legalization in his hometown of Washington, D.C. He writes a compelling opinion piece to the Philadelphia Inquirer about why marijuana legalization will harm our inner city communities. Calling marijuana toxic and addictive, he makes a strong case that pot shops will destablize communities already suffering from education and health disparities.
Other Voices on Marijuana and Social Justice
Abu Edwards, Director of State Affairs for Project SAM says state legalization will be a disaster for black communities. He clearly lays out how minorities are being used to further profit motives of big business rather than social justice. Of particular concern is how the children in his community are going to be led into a drug lifestyle by the aggressive advertising of this industry.
So, is it as the marijuana activists say, a choice between legal weed and social injustice? Dr. Kevin Sabet discusses the false dichotomy of legalization and criminalization in his TEDx PrincetonU talk. It is not a black and white issue, he advises there are many dimensions to consider, as this is an important social and public health discussion.
You can equip yourself to debate the finer points of marijuana and social justice. We recommend taking the time to downloand and read these excellent materials.
First, take a look at this easy to navigate fact sheet, a downloadable one pager on Social Justice by Smart Approaches to Marijuana.
Read also this important PopPot perspective about the disingenuous social justice argument for pot, Social Justice, the Pretext Legalizers Use to Get Support.
Once again, we rely on the great work of Project SAM on this issue. Kevin Sabet and Will Jones, III co-authored this excellent article on Marijuana Legalization, The Social Injustice which debunks many of the racially based arguments for legalization.
Now that you know, take some time and help educate 5 people you think need to know.