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    Default Marijuana Legalization and the Fight for Racial Justice

    On May 25th, George Floyd was killed on camera by officers affiliated with the Minneapolis Police Department. As were many Americans, we were shocked and disheartened by this tragic and needless loss of life.
    As the events of the past few days have unfolded, it is clear that America is in the midst of a long overdue reckoning with itself. Since 1619, when the first ships arrived on the coast of Virginia with enslaved Africans in chains, our country has long had to struggle to address the inequality and structural racism embedded within our public institutions — particularly within the criminal justice system.
    From slavery and the Civil War, to the battles to end Jim Crow laws, to the marches for civil rights, to the protests against mass incarceration, to the Black Lives Matter movement, each generation of Americans has stepped up to take action to fight to end racial injustice.
    As protests continue to take place across our nation, more Americans are beginning to publicly demand action from their local, state, and federal leaders to end the policies and practices that promote, enable, and drive systemic racial injustice. In these conversations about policy solutions, many will include in their demands an ending to the war on drugs — or, at a minimum, an ending to marijuana criminalization. But while ending cannabis prohibition is both important and necessary, we must also recognize that doing so is but a single piece of a much larger puzzle.
    Will legalizing marijuana reform alone solve the problem of racial injustice? No.
    Is ending cannabis prohibition going to fix all of America’s social ills? No.
    After we legalize adult-cannabis use, will we see an end to discriminatory policing against communities of color and other marginalized groups? No.
    Will end marijuana prohibition be a small step toward the greater goal of promoting justice? Without a doubt, yes.
    And the majority of Americans agree.
    Our decades-long prohibition of marijuana was founded upon racism and bigotry. Look no further than the sentiments of its architect, Harry J. Anslinger, Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who declared: “[M]ost [marijuana consumers in the US] are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. … [M]arijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes. … Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
    These racial biases were later exploited by the Nixon administration when it ramped up the drug war in 1970 and declared cannabis to be “public enemy #1.” As former Nixon adviser John Ehrlichman later acknowledged: “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
    Today, the modern era of marijuana prohibition continues to be disproportionately applied. Annually, over 650,000 Americans are arrested for violating marijuana laws. Yet, according to an analysis of these arrests released earlier this year by the ACLU, “In every single state, Black people were more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, and in some states, Black people were up to six, eight, or almost ten times more likely to be arrested. In 31 states, racial disparities were actually larger in 2018 than they were in 2010.”
    Of course, marijuana prohibition isn’t the sole cause of America’s racial inequities, nor is it the sole reason why certain members of the police continue to engage in racially-aggressive policing and misconduct. But its criminalization is one of the tools commonly used to justify and perpetuate these injustices.
    For example, marijuana enforcement was the pretext in the fatal law enforcement shooting of another Minnesotan just a few years before George Floyd’s murder: Philando Castile. The officer in this case alleged that he feared for his life simply because he believed that Mr. Castille had been smoking marijuana, stating: “I thought I was gonna die. And I thought if he’s, if he has the guts and the audacity to smoke marijuana in front of the 5-year-old girl and risk her lungs and risk her life by giving her secondhand smoke and the front seat passenger doing the same thing then what, what care does he give about me. And, I let off the rounds and then after the rounds were off, the little girl was screaming.”
    Even in those jurisdictions where adult-use cannabis is legal, we know that there still remains much work to be done to address continuing racial inequities. For instance, African Americans and Latinos continue to disproportionately be targeted for traffic stops in Colorado and Washington even after legalization.
    Then there is the question of the cannabis industry itself. We advocates need to continue to push for inclusion and equity within this space. We must not ignore the reality that while a handful of venture capitalists are now engaging in licensed cannabis sales in systems that largely exclude minority ownership while millions of others — most of them young, poor, and people of color — continue to face arrest and incarceration for engaging in much of the same behavior.
    There is no doubt that our national discussion over matters of race and policing will continue long after these public protests have ceased. NORML believes that calls for cannabis legalization need to be an important part of this emerging discussion — but only a part. Black and brown lives matter and we owe it to our country and to ourselves to take tangible steps toward dismantling many of the power structures that perpetuate injustice. Marijuana prohibition is simply one of them.
    We are at a crossroads in this country and it is time for all of us to march as allies in the fight for racial justice and equality. It is important during this process for those of us not from these marginalized communities to truly listen to those who are facing this oppression and support them in this struggle. Let us take this moment in time to pledge to put in the work necessary in order to make America the better and more just nation that we know it can be.
    In Solidarity,
    Erik Altieri
    NORML Executive Director


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  2. #2
    Seedling Egzoset's Avatar

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    Salutations,

    Quote Originally Posted by TY RSS News View Post
    ...single piece of a much larger puzzle.
    As a matter of fact the same is also true of USA's official anti-cannabic history which got delayed because of internal political tensions over its own sovereingty vs UN's (formerly the "League of Nations") international treaties. It turns out in days when Québec/Canada still belonged to the British Empire (as a ""dominion") there actually was a PROVINCIAL law approved during the reign of Queen Victoria which added "Indian Hemp" / "Cannabis sativa L." to its "Poison" schedule besides arsenic and cyanure... To be exact that was an update of the Pharmacy Act which got printed in 1890, e.g. nearly half a century before USA's 1937 marihuana tax, or just 2 years before Commissioner Anslinger was even born.

    A larger puzzle actually inludes the "science" of John Warnock, director of a "lunatic assylum" in Abbasiya (Cairo/Egypt); or pure propaganda from "elites" as Emily F. Murphy aka Janey Canuck, author of "The Black Candle" and more specifically chapter XXXII: “Marahuana – A new menace”, Macleans 1922. That female author was rewarded under King George with a "Lady of Grace" medal from the Order of Saint-John of Jerusalem, despite her eugenic views; more (post-mortem) honors we given by putting her face on our 32 ¢ postal stamps (1985) then again as part of the "famous 5" besides Thérèse Casgrain on 50 $ bills, nearly a couple decades later (2004). Some rumor i could never positively verify even stated that her 1923 book could be found in the League of Nations library as "reference" while Raoul Dandurand presided... So it should provide a more relevant perspective to consider high-profile individuals as Emily Murphy actively supported the Sexual Sterilization Act voted in Calgary/Algerta, in the name of peace (or selective breeding...), whatever, etc!

    Briefly put the destiny of USA was to lead a bigot anti-cannabic movement since practically UN's Geneva Opium Convention of 1925 but the need to harmonize laws to better suit an international body between 2 wars felt like a greater threat, politically-speaking.

    Quote Originally Posted by TY RSS News View Post
    Will end marijuana prohibition be a small step toward the greater goal of promoting justice?
    Ask visible minorities of Canada if they feel included in Justin's "legal" mari-caca reform.

    Truth is Justin Trudeau had been insisting for weeks that law enforcers do "their jobs" when Montréal's SPVM-GTi agent Christian Gilbert fatally shot an unarmed immigration man with a "plastic bullet" aimed directly at his head and at unsafe distance (...), over 8 oz which had to be collected from multiple pockets not even his own, only ~3 weeks from UNGASS 2016, just hours from April fool's day. The victim was framed by the 4 solid sides of a window, practically unable to move when he showed up in the agent's visor, a 10-yr specialist on "alternative weapons" who forgot the manufacturer's clear instructions that day: #1) to NOT aim for the head, #2) to NOT shoot at unsafe distance. Quite naturally this case never went beyond accusations in a court of (in)justice and there are canuck citizens who remember, simply try a Google Search to find additional fragmented background information via mass media:

    "Bony Jean-Pierre" "Christian Gilbert"

    [ https:// montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/activists-to-protest-against-police-violence-on-sunday ]
    MG: Activists to protest against police violence on Sunday (2020-May-29)

    [ https:// montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/a-timeline-of-police-violence-against-people-of-colour-in-montreal ]
    MG: A timeline of police violence against people of colour in Montreal (2020-Jun-1)

    Good day, have fun!!
    http://www.jango.com/profiles/44436821

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