When it comes to the judicial system, race stands as a sort of systematic barrier for people of color. You can look to examples like the differences in crack vs. powder cocaine; but in most recent years the most glaring case of this discrepancy has become obvious: the marijuana industry.
Black and white people smoke marijuana at roughly the same rate, Black smokers being at 14% and white smokers being at 12%, according to the ACLU.
Black people, however, are 3.73 times more likely to get arrested for marijuana.
The war on drugs and its connection to black people is nothing new, thanks to past administrations in the United States government.
“We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.”
That quote is from Nixon’s advisor, John Ehrlichman, who is said to have simply shrugged after revealing this information.
This action of setting black people up for failure is still present in today’s society. Police officers will purposefully put blunts and even meth inside someone’s car or pocket to be able to arrest them. More often than not, these people are black.
The legalization of marijuana remains as a long-standing debate between politicians, citizens and the marijuana industry itself.
Out of the 25 potential candidates for the 2020 presidential election, 19 support federal legalization of weed. The support for federal legalization of marijuana was not always this widespread though.
While more high-profile crimes are going on in cities, police forces use billions of federal dollars to make arrests against marijuana users and sellers. A lot of money is also being given to keep these marijuana offenders behind bars.
Center for American Progress estimates that legalizing marijuana would save about a total net amount of $13.7 billion dollars. This would, in turn, send more than 650,000 students to public universities every year simply because of the enforcement decrease and tax revenue.
While some have dipped their toes into the debate over taxing marijuana or for favorability within the race, some candidates have been backing marijuana legalization for years.
Beto O’Rourke, Andrew Yang and Bernie Sanders are three candidates who have been long-term marijuana supporters.
“Our criminalization of it seems stupid and racist, particularly now that it’s legal in some states,” Yang says on his website.
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies marijuana, along with heroin, LSD and ecstasy, as Schedule 1 drugs.
Schedule 1 drugs are defined as having a high potential for abuse with no accepted medical use or chance to be researched.
Sanders even voiced his concern with this scheduling by stating, “right now, marijuana is listed by the federal government as a Schedule 1 drug — meaning that it is considered to be as dangerous as heroin. That is absurd.”
Donald Trump and Joe Biden are the only two candidates who are against the federal legalization of marijuana .