October 19, 2018, Alabama
Southern Poverty Law Center and Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice have recently compiled a report on the situation of cannabis law enforcement in the state. Their report ‘War on Marijuana’ indicates that the black population of Alabama is being unfairly affected by cannabis-related arrests and prosecutions.
The report thoroughly shed light on the impact of cannabis criminalization on racial demographics. It also concludes that the damaging repercussions of cannabis misdemeanors and offenses mostly fall on the black population. The discrimination is so severe that one black man had to spend 15 months in prison just for a single dime bag of pot.
The groups devised the report from the latest arrest data available. Their findings reveal that blacks are four times more likely to face arrests for cannabis possession as compared to the white population. For felonies, the disproportion goes even deeper where black individuals are five times more susceptible to get rounded by Alabama’s law enforcement personnel. It is important to mention here that the rate of cannabis consumption is nearly the same among both blacks and whites.
The report also reveals that the disparity is deep-rooted and more on display at county levels. For instance, the local law enforcement bodies in the state are 10 times more likely to arrest people of color in general. According to Carlos Chaverst, an active member of the campaign Black Lives Matter, it is common in Alabama that black people are more stringently policed than whites. He thinks that the ultra-conservatism of the Southern belt is the leading reason why such unconcealed racism exists in the place.
The executive director of Alabama Appleseed thinks that war on marijuana is not just fueling the already aggravated issue of racial disproportion, but it is also costing heavily the state with its law enforcement resources.
The unjust and pointless marijuana prosecution put affected peoples’ lives into a never-ending cycle of difficulties. People bearing the brunt of cannabis prosecutions have to face setbacks at every step in their lives. They can’t qualify for loans. They become ineligible for nearly every white collar job. Affected students face a plethora of difficulties in continuing their studies. In other words, life just doesn’t remain the same for them.
On the other hand, this unnecessary crackdown against cannabis results in so much wastage of valuable resources of state and local law enforcement machinery. According to the report, the state of Alabama spent $22 million on upholding its laws against marijuana possession and use. This huge amount can be better used for dealing with more serious crimes.
It is an open secret that nearly every state faces a crisis of swelling backlog of violent crime cases. The problem can be resolved to an extent by diverting money and human resources from cannabis law enforcement to these areas.
For that matter, both groups have demanded the state administration to decriminalize the use and minor possessions of cannabis in order to address the issue of racial disproportion and to streamline law enforcement measures.
Marijuana stays in the news, and Alice is always ready to keep us updated. A world traveler and lover of freedom, Alice knows what is going on, no matter where she roams. She specializes in marijuana legalization stories across the globe, with up to date... [read more]