Weed Arrests: Racist, Costly, DestructiveS

A comprehensive new report from the ACLU about marijuana arrests in America confirms three key points: A) Weed arrests are overwhelmingly racially biased; B) Weed arrests consume an insanely large amount of money and resources; and C) Weed needs to be legalized, ASAP.

The third point, of course, is just a logical extrapolation of the first two. But let's take them one by one. While use of weed is spread across all races and classes, arrests for weed certainly are not: "Despite the fact that marijuana is used at comparable rates by whites and Blacks, state and local governments have aggressively enforced marijuana laws selectively against Black people and communities. In 2010, the Black arrest rate for marijuana possession was 716 per 100,000, while the white arrest rate was 192 per 100,000. Stated another way, a Black person was 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person — a disparity that increased 32.7% between 2001 and 2010."

Marijuana arrests are a manifestation of institutional racism, in other words, and a convenient tool for its perpetuation. They are also a waste of money: "States spent over $3.61
billion combined enforcing marijuana possession laws in 2010. New York and California
combined spent over $1 billion in total justice system expenditures just on enforcement
of marijuana possession arrests... At the national level, a CATO Institute study estimated that federal drug expenditures on marijuana prohibition in 2008 were $3.4 billion, and that legalization would generate $8.7 billion in annual revenue."

Alcohol prohibition was a failure. Marijuana prohibition is a failure, too— and an even more insane one, because it has persisted longer, cost far more money, and destroyed far more lives, even though weed itself is a far less destructive drug than alcohol. The longer we allow it to continue, the more money we spend, and the more people we shove into the criminal justice system, and the more lives we destroy. Marijuana cannot be decriminalized a day too soon.

Everyone who disagrees, please report to your local police station, because you've all smoked weed, and you deserve to be locked up. Right?

[The full report. Photo: AP]