Several reports reveal there is a wide differential in how Black people and White people are treated when it comes to marijuana offenses. These differences have been the subjects of debates for decades. They are responsible for the overwhelming population of Blacks in American prisons compared to incarcerated White folks.
Report Shows Differences in the Ways Blacks & Whites Are Convicted for Cannabis Offenses
A 2016 Human Rights Watch report disclosed that arrests for marijuana possession outnumber those for all violent crimes combined.
To make matters worse, people of color have been disenfranchised and incarcerated far more for marijuana offenses to the point where legalizing it can’t even undo the injustices those convicted of cannabis crimes have suffered.
Public policy makers have been called upon to remedy the effects this racially indifferent legislation has had on minority communities across the United States.
Blacks Suffer for Marijuana Offenses While Whites Get Off the Hook
While many White people have created booming businesses out of marijuana, Black people dare not do the same in many US states. These White marijuana entrepreneurs get positive media attention with their growing cannabis businesses.
But Blacks and Brown people’s lives get worsened by marijuana legislation. Some of the ways People of Color suffer for cannabis offenses include:
- Crippling criminal records
- Limited employment opportunities
- Loss of voting rights
- Loss of student aids and other academic resources
- Upended incarceration sentences
Studies also reveal that Black people are 2.5 times more likely to get arrested and imprisoned for marijuana offenses equally committed by white people. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics also states that unemployment rates for Black people in America is twice that of White people.
To this extent, some Black and Brown people consider cannabis to be a profitable way to make quick money. Marijuana advocates say modifying cannabis legislation and providing economic support for minority groups may reduce such related offenses.
Medical and Recreational Marijuana Legal in Several US States
At the moment, medical marijuana is legalized in 29 US states, as well as Washington DC.
The Adult Use of Marijuana Act became effective in California in January 2018. It allows registered businesses in some California cities to “sell” marijuana to adults over 21 years old specifically for recreational use.
However, unless the government reforms the federal criminal justice system as it affects Communities of Color, People of Color will continue to be victims of discriminatory and unjust cannabis-related policies.