|Marijuana legalization has a new, influential advocate: The New York Times.
On Sunday, the Times editorial board began a six-part series on marijuana legalization with an op-ed titled “Repeal Prohibition, Again.” “It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition,” writes the Times. “It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.” […]
An element that looms large in the Times analysis is the disparate impact of marijuana enforcement on blacks and Latinos. From 2001 to 2010, according to a 2013 report from the American Civil Liberties Union, blacks and whites had roughly equal rates of marijuana use, with small variations from year to year. Among young people ages 18 to 25, usage rates were higher for whites, and overall, more blacks than whites say they’ve never tried marijuana.
Nevertheless, blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, with an arrest rate of 716 per 100,000 for blacks to 192 per 100,000 for whites (compared to a national average of 256 per 100,000). What’s startling is that the total marijuana arrest rate has increased by nearly one-third since 2001, while at the same time, the rate for whites has remained constant, a sign that blacks account for the bulk of new arrests. […]
It’s true that few marijuana arrests result in prison time. Roughly 40,000 state and federal inmates have current marijuana convictions, and the majority of those are for sale and distribution. “Less than 1 percent … are serving time for marijuana possession alone—and in many of those cases, the possession conviction was the result of a plea bargain involving the dismissal of more serious charges,” write drug policy scholars Beau Kilmer, Jonathan P. Caulkins, Mark A.R. Kleiman, and Angela Hawken in Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know.
But even if they don’t lead to prison, these arrests bring people into the criminal justice system. “A simple arrest for marijuana possession can show up on criminal databases as ‘a drug arrest’ without specifying the substance or the charge, and without clarifying even whether the person was convicted,” notes law professor Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow, “These databases are then used by police and prosecutors, as well as by employers and housing officials—an electronic record that will haunt many for life.” […]
We can’t always heal injury, but we can acknowledge and compensate for it. Any plan for legalization should come with a plan for reparations for those communities most damaged by our misguided war on marijuana. That doesn’t mean individual payments—the logistics are too difficult—as much as it does policies for affected communities, from job training and educational services to something like My Brother’s Keeper, all funded by a surtax on marijuana sales and distribution.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2003—Afghanistan slipping back to warlordism:
|Afghanistan is slipping back into the hands of warlords because the US refused to extend international control outside Kabul, keeps two brigades there when 10 are needed and have underfunded reconstruction across the country. We expected an Afghan national army to solve our problems when that is years away from being anything close to reality.
Afghanistan is a place were we could easily wake up one morning, find the President assassinated, the Army in revolt and US troops stuck in the Kindu Kush fighting tribesmen from both sides of the border. Things are so desperate that the 25ID, trained to fight in the Pacific and Korea, will send the next brigades to Afghanistan.
Our ob[s]ession with Iraq, trapping whole divisions there, leaves Afghanistan exposed and ripe for an election year failure.
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