The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security held a hearing today on the impact of marijuana laws in America.
Despite the wave of cannabis progress, and products, sweeping the country coast to coast, marijuana arrests rose in America last year for the second year in a row. Are we generally down from the most horrifying arrest numbers seen when prohibition was at full blast? Yes. Are communities of color still impacted the most by cannabis enforcement? That’s going to be a big yes. The committee noted in announcing the hearing that of the 660,000 arrests for marijuana last year, 600,000 were for simple possession.
The Committee leadership was hoping to give the reps taking part an opportunity to consider the wider issues around the importance of reforming marijuana laws in America.
The subcommittee was chaired by congresswoman Karen Bass. Bass noted that since the time President Nixon declared a war on drugs, people of color have been hit the hardest. African Americans are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white people.
“Part of the has devastation has been we criminalized a health problem.” Chairwoman Bass noted, “While we poured millions of dollars into incarceration, we did not put adequate resources into drug treatment. Bass noted while legalization is the direction many places are going, we need to make sure there is a plan to use a piece of the money to help folks with substance abuse issues.
She doesn’t automatically believe that legalization will result in a decrease in the disproportionate arrests of people of color, especially African Americans. “But I do hope those who use the disproportionate arrests as part of their campaign for legalization are just and concerned and