Cannabis Prohibition and Racial Inequality

For those of us fortunate enough to live in a state like Colorado, cannabis prohibition seems like a relic of the past. For us, obtaining medical or even recreational marijuana is as easy as going to The Green Solution® and choosing from the vast array of products there. But we should remain aware of the fact that American citizens are still suffering because of the continued illegality of marijuana on the federal level as well as in many states.

In 2016, there were over 653,000 cannabis-related arrests in the United States – or roughly one arrest every 48 seconds – for a plant that millions of us purchase legally every day. And who ends up getting arrested most often? Let’s just say it’s not wealthy white people.

Consider this: arrest statistics are frequently used to determine whether local law enforcement agencies receive federal grants. The more arrests a department can show, the more money they stand to make. In an op-ed for CNN earlier this year, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (R) put it this way: “Why are the arrest rates so lopsided? Because it is easier to go into urban areas and make arrests than suburban areas. Arrest statistics matter when cities apply for federal grants. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand that it’s easier to round up, arrest, and convict poor kids than it is to convict rich kids.” He continued, “Our prison population…has increased by over 700% since the 1980s, and 90% of them are nonviolent (drug) offenders.”

So, the next time you’re enjoying TGS flower, a NectarBee edible, or any other legally obtained cannabis product, take a second to remember our brothers and sisters who are incarcerated for doing exactly the same thing. They deserve justice, and we simply can’t afford to forget them.