You may recall my previous post on the extreme injustice of the drug war. To my mind, this continues to be the most important, easy to solve issue facing us today.
So I am always glad when there is reason for some (slight) optimism about the war on drugs. And there is now. Last week the New Hampshire state House voted to legalize up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational use by anyone 21 or older. Coupled with the reforms in Colorado and Washington, as well as countries like Uruguay, Portugal, and (of course) The Netherlands, things seem to be slowly moving in a positive direction.
In my earlier post, I made some comments about the racial dimension of drug war’s injustice. Some people expressed concerns about these claims. For those of you who are interested in the issue, here you can check out a recent ACLU report that summarizes some of the racially disparate effects of enforcing laws against marijuana.
The report has two findings, which combine to underscore the points I made earlier. First, if you think the drug war is mostly waged against gangsters, dealers, and associated bad guys, think again. Arrests for marijuana (the most innocuous of illegal drugs) make up over half of all drug arrests. And no less than 88% of those arrests are for possession. (Of all drug arrests, 46% is for marijuana possession. Many others, of course, are for possession of other drugs.)
Second, if you still thought the law is colorblind, think again. While black Americans use drugs at roughly the same rates as white Americans, blacks are 3.73 times more likely to get arrested for drug offenses. The War on Drugs is, was, and will remain a gigantic waste of lives, police effort, money, and time.
Unfortunately, it looks like the New Hampshire initiative is not going anywhere. Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan has announced that she will veto the bill. Let’s not mince words here. What do you call a person who has to do nothing but sign a bill that would predictably take a real step towards ending terrible injustice, but refuses to do so? I have a few terms come to mind. The politest: a thug.