June 24, 2020 04:03 pm ETEstimated Read Time: 3 Minutes
Protesters continue taking to streets. Crowds in the streets are still increasing daily with those outraged over the death of George Floyd and police brutality in general. The cries of this crowd speak volumes about the disproportionate effects of police interaction and people of color (POC). Discussing whether this incident was racially motivated is not what we are talking about, but rather the massively increased risk that comes with being a POC and having any police contact.
Evidence Shows That Police Target POC
Not only are POC at an increased risk of having police contact, but this contact is often more aggressive and often a result of indirect racial targeting. Studies have shown that POC are significantly more likely to be arrested for possession of cannabis. Some want to say that POC use cannabis more often, but actually other demographics are consuming cannabis at the same rate. The correlation between POC, cannabis, racial injustice, and over-policing is bigger than most consider.
Equality is Not Happening
While racial disparities have unfortunately existed since the inception of this country, many elements have gone into play that have deepened these. Despite many efforts to create equality legislatively, it seems in this time communities are calling for big changes. In a letter signed by 44 members of Congress to the Department of Justice regarding the death of Breonna Taylor during a drug-raid, lawmakers stated, “Ms. Taylor was a young woman with plans for a long, fruitful life… Instead, her life was brutally cut short by a haphazard law enforcement exercise…it is time for the U.S. Department of Justice to honor hers.”
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Supported by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Drug Policy Alliance, and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); the letter brings to light the excessive force commonly utilized in even low level, non-violent drug investigations. According to a recent report from the ACLU, in Kentucky, which ranks second in racial disparities in cannabis enforcement, it shows that black people there are 9.4 times more likely to be arrested for the offense compared to white people despite similar cannabis consumption rates.
House Members Condemn Police Brutality and The War on Drugs
Because of these blending and blurring issues, twelve House members introduced a resolution the last week of May 2020, condemning police brutality in light of the recent law enforcement killings that have galvanized mass protests. The measure specifically notes the racial injustices of the war on drugs. In addition to condemning “all acts of brutality, racial profiling, and the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers and calls for the end of militarized policing practices,” the resolution urges the Justice Department to investigate individual cases of police violence and racial profiling and establish all-civilian review boards to provide community oversight of policing.
Cannabis Legalization Isn’t Enough
Cannabis arrests nationally are down 18% since 2010, but there has been an uptick since 2015—even though more states are enacting legalization or decriminalization policies. Cannabis arrests accounted for 43 percent of all drug arrests in 2018, the most recent year the report covers, and an overwhelming majority of those arrests—89.6 percent—were for possession alone. The trend toward legalization and decriminalization hasn’t reduced national trends in disparate enforcement—and in some parts of the country, they have worsened.
The War on Drugs was created to target POC and their communities. Despite the legalization trend spreading, the War on Drugs continues to disproportionately affect POC.
Natasha has worked as a journalist in the cannabis scene for several years. She travels regularly in her tiny house school bus conversion to keep up to date with the ever-changing industry. Her experience is varied and eclectic.
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