Letter of the Day (June 19): Marijuana enforcement and race

  • Updated: June 19, 2013 - 9:30 AM

This plant was seeded without soil, in pulverized rock, to spur faster growth. Colorado's medical-marijuana industry is increasingly sophisticated at producing high-quality crops indoors.

Photo: Alan Berner, Seattle Times/MCT

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An editorial in the June 15 issue of the New York Times, discussing nationwide law patterns in marijuana enforcement, reported that, in Minnesota, African-Americans are about eight times as likely to be arrested for suspected possession of the drug as whites are. Eight times. As a white citizen who hasn’t smelled the fragrance of marijuana for a very long time, I find this report appalling and disturbing.

I neither support marijuana use nor legalization. I do support law enforcement on an equal basis for all. Does marijuana enforcement exist to ensure a well-regulated society, or is its function to ensure that eight black citizens for each white one are entangled in the criminal-justice system: arrest, incarceration, 10 percent bail fees, job schedule conflicts, lawyer fees, court dates (more time away from work) and penalties? What do we gain when an otherwise responsible breadwinner is removed from the home and is forced to run the criminal-justice gauntlet?

The only explanation for the disparity is racism. Yes, that is an uncomfortable thought, but it is the reality. Not twice the rate, not four times, but eight.


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