by David Downs
"It's time to end the War on Marijuana," the American Civil Liberties Union proclaims this week in its boldest effort on the issue yet.
According to the ACLU's comprehensive new report: "The aggressive enforcement of marijuana possession laws needlessly ensnares hundreds of thousands of people into the criminal justice system and wastes billions of taxpayers’ dollars. What’s more, it is carried out with staggering racial bias. Despite being a priority for police departments nationwide, the War on Marijuana has failed to reduce marijuana use and availability and diverted resources that could be better invested in our communities."
Police made 8.2 million arrests between 2001 and 2010 for marijuana, and 88 percent of them were for simple possession, the ACLU finds. A pot arrest is no slap on the wrist, either.
"After being pulled over for 'playing his music too loud,' DeMarcus Sanders was arrested for having a single marijuana seed on the floor of his car. It cost him his job, his driver’s license, the start of a college degree, a month in jail and thousands of dollars. DeMarcus is just one of millions of people whose lives were needlessly harmed by a wasteful numbers game that unfairly targets communities of color—despite the fact that blacks and whites use marijuana at comparable rates, blacks are almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession."
That's on average. In places like the Midwest, blacks are arrested at more than eight times the rate of whites, despite lower usage rates.
Read the full report, which is going to be reverberating for months, if not years. And tell the Department of Justice to end this nightmare with a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.