The so called “War on Drugs” has devastated certain black communities i America. It has resulted in the highest incarceration rate in the world, and ruined the lives of millions of young people. When every statistical analysis in the last 30 years has shown that whites are 6 times more likely to use, carry, and smuggle drugs – the only way where you can get to a situation here black kids are 6-8 times more likely to be arrested and charged is intentional. And that isn’t even getting into the issue of different sentences for chemically identical “crack” cocaine and powder cocaine leading to significantly longer prison terms for crack, which happens to be predominately the form of cocaine used by the poor and black folks.
As marijuana legalization expands across the U.S., the war on drugs inches closer to its long-awaited end. Hanging in the balance: those arrested or incarcerated for the drug, casualties of a war that’s been overwhelmingly waged in communities of color.
It’s one that, despite marijuana being legal in more than half the nation, is far from over. According to a report from the Colorado Department of Public Safety and Health, there was a 58 percent increase in marijuana arrests among black adolescents from 2012-2014. Among white adolescents, during the same time frame, arrests dropped eight percent.
While the federal government works to stop lawmakers from impeding on the freedoms of citizens in states where pot is legal, Oakland, California is looking to fix the damage that’s already done.
This week the city—known for uprooting the status quo—introduced a groundbreaking measure that’s been deemed “drug war reparations.”
Known officially as the “Equity Permit Program” it’s an ordinance that allocates half of its dispensary permits to people who’ve served time for marijuana violations in the last ten years, or lived in one of several zones with the highest number of arrests for the drug.
Written by councilwoman Desley Brooks, the equity program—at its core—is shattering the notion that marijuana violators are criminals. Instead, it offers them a front row ticket to a billion dollar industry fueled by the drug that once put them behind bars.
Social justice activists, while enthused by the idea, say the ordinance has problems—some of which, like a lack of financial assistance, may hinder the applicant’s ability to succeed. But its issues aside, the ordinance is nothing short of revolutionary, a piece of legislation which suggests that those struck down by pot should be the first its legalization lifts up. Oakland’s unanimous vote of approval is, if nothing else, a sign that those who’ve suffered from prohibition may soon be getting a green payback…Read The Rest Here…