And the main reason for this is the following:
History has shown, that when there’s demand for a certain product, you can be sure it will be met one way or another…and if this product is criminalized, you can also be sure that criminal gangs will step in to fulfill this demand (think of the Prohibition of alcohol in the U.S. in the early 1900s).
But what’s even more disheartening about this whole ‘war on drugs’, is that already disadvantaged communities like the African-American and Hispanic communities, got disproportionally hit by this war.
And the incarceration of members of these communities is severely blocking socioeconomic improvements of these communities (if you want to read on how incarceration of individuals leads to a negative spiral of downward socioeconomic movement of whole communities, read ‘Deadly Symbiosis: When Ghetto and Prison Meet and Mesh’ by L. Wacquant)
There are critics that argue that the war on drugs is mainly a race war.
And when we look at the statistics…
No one can deny that there might actually be some truth to this.
Racial Statistics About the War on Drugs
The federal government releases figures on drug offenders and their respective races on a yearly basis.
And when we look at these figures from last year (2017), we can clearly see that African-Americans and Hispanics, are sentenced disproportionality compared to their proportion of the full U.S. population.
While African Americans make up almost 25% of all drug offenders, while only 13% of the U.S. population is black.
With Hispanic people, the stats are even more skewed: they make up almost 50% of the drug offenders, while only 17% of the U.S. population is Hispanic!
If we take a closer look at marijuana drug offenders, we can see that African Americans actually don’t get disproportionally incarcerated for these types of offenses. Hispanics on the other hand, make up almost 75% of all marijuana drug offenders!
Now, we can clearly see which already disadvantaged community gets hit the hardest by the war on marijuana: the Hispanic community.
How Legalizing Marijuana Leads to Socioeconomic Improvements
How a beneficial plant like marijuana is illegal in the first place is beyond me.
That being said, depending on the state, these marijuana-related drug offenses can range from carrying a little bit of marijuana to smuggling kilos of it.
I don’t know about you, but to me, carrying a little bit of marijuana should NEVER be a reason to get incarcerated for months or even years in some instances.
What happens when the average Hispanic guy or girl gets incarcerated for carrying a little bit of marijuana while coming home from work for example?
Suddenly, he/she is an ex-convict. Now his/her job chances reduce DRASTICALLY, since there are very few places that actually hire ‘ex-convicts’. He/she might lose his/her current job even. Unable to find a new one, but still needing money…what options are left?
Yes, unfortunately, they might get forced into illegal activities to maintain their previous standard of living…
And all of this for carrying a little bit of marijuana!
Then, when going to prison, they will come into contact with real criminals like gang members, thieves and worse. Whether you want it or not, the people you spend time with, are the people that influence you, and staying around real criminals might actually turn you into a real one as well. It doesn’t have to take long before our ex-law-abiding Hispanic citizen turns into a full-fledged criminal, if he’s susceptible to these types of influences (and let’s be honest, 90% of us will be susceptible to them) …further exacerbating the downward spiral on the socioeconomic ladder.
And thinking that none of this would’ve happened if carrying a little bit of marijuana was simply legal!
Then there are the more severe drug offenses: drug-trade, often perpetrated by organized crime gangs.
Now, before we start pointing fingers towards these crime gangs…
Let’s ask ourselves: what makes a fertile breeding ground for these crime gangs?
Earlier we talked about the demand for products, and how, whether the products are legal or illegal, the demand always gets fulfilled. So, in the case of illegal products, it means that the demand gets fulfilled in an illegal way as well.
Exactly in a vacuum like this, is where criminal gangs get formed and operate.
What happens when the government takes away this vacuum?
Criminal gangs lose their purpose and chances are, there will be much less of them.
It’s no secret that minority groups like Hispanics are overly represented in the gang crime statistics. If we stop giving gangs a fertile breeding ground, the youngsters who would’ve normally joined a gang can now focus on a crimeless future and in that way, help lift their communities up as well!
New Job Opportunities
The legalization of marijuana, of course, will also lead to a massive increase in job opportunities.
This is great news for disadvantaged communities, because the cannabis-industry is quite a labor-intensive industry, needing many human heads and hands.
Examples could be:
- Companies that grow marijuana
- Manufacturing of marijuana-based products
- The vaping-industry
- The medical sector
Original Author: Winston Peki