According to the ACLU, black and Hispanic people are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. In New York City, 87% of those arrested for marijuana were black or Hispanic.

  Black and Hispanic communities have been the focus of the war on marijuana to a far greater extent than their white counterparts. Evidence consistently shows that members of these communities are far more likely to be targeted by police and persecuted for drug offenses. According to the ACLU, black and Hispanic people are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.(#1) In New York City, 87% of those arrested for marijuana were black or Hispanic.(#2)

            It is this kind of institutional discrimination that led the esteemed civil rights advocate and professor Michelle Alexander to call the War on Drugs “The New Jim Crow”.

But what are the effects of these arrests? The overwhelming majority of those arrested for marijuana are under the age of 30.(#3) They are at a pivotal time in their lives and in their development, and having even a small drug charge on their criminal record can have disastrous consequences for their job prospects and educational future – even if they never end up serving actual prison time. Anyone who has filled out a job application will be familiar with the section that asks if the applicant has ever been arrested, a condition that makes it very difficult for people with a marijuana charge to enter the job market. Similarly, there are many restrictions for people with a criminal record when they try to apply for educational grants or public housing. As a result, someone who was charged with a marijuana offense at 18 is immediately and permanently disadvantaged. In many cases, they are given little choice but to turn to a life of crime.

Anyone who has filled out a job application will be familiar with the section that asks if the applicant has ever been arrested, a condition that makes it very difficult for people with a marijuana charge to enter the job market.

                For those who are sent to prison over marijuana offenses, the effect is most severely felt by the family. Countless parents have been separated from their children because of non-violent marijuana charges. This only serves to break up families, overburden our justice system, and waste tax-payer dollars. All of these factors have come together to create tensions between minorities and the police, to damage communities, and to rob young people of a successful future. After 80 years of marijuana prohibition, what do we have to show for it? Marijuana is more available than ever despite billions of dollars spent and countless lives ruined. It’s time we put an end to it.

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