convicted for minor marijuana crimes a second chance and a clean slate. They are particularlyhelpful to a large proportion of blacks and Hispanics who may not have been able to pursue aproductive life due to past criminal records involving marijuana. A second benefit that can be obtained through the legalization of marijuana is the abilityto give back to the very communities that marijuana enforcement has hurt the most. Examples ofthis can be seen in Oakland, California, where the country’s first “dispensary equity” programwas initiated. This program requires that 50 percent of medical cannabis dispensary permits mustgo to applicants who lived in areas of Oakland for a minimum of two years where there havebeen high incidences of arrest and unemployment or to individuals who have been jailed for amarijuana conviction in Oakland (Levin). To give further incentive, the city has offered taxincentives and reductions in licensing fees to dispensaries that employ formerly incarceratedindividuals from the region (Levin). While legalization has been shown to have a positive impact, both the ACLU and theDrug Policy Alliance acknowledge that legalization alone will not be successful in putting a stop
to the unequal enforcement of marijuana laws. Both groups have called for police policy reform.In order to truly address the problem of racially biased enforcement, society must examine why itcontinues to occur and promote changes in current policing policies. Dean Angelo, the pastPresident of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police believes that these racial disparities are causedby police concentrating their patrol efforts on neighborhoods that are known to have high levelsof crime; these areas are typically urban where minorities and those of lower income reside(Gaines). Police patrol these areas in a much greater concentration and frequency than middle toupper class communities. As police focus or target areas where minorities live and gather, it islikely that they are stopping and detaining people unnecessarily. Although the reported bias maynot be the result of prejudice or intended racial bias, many feel this inequality of arrests isbelieved to occur because of over-policing of these areas (Mohdin).Additionally, a commonpractice in these types of neighborhoods is “stop and search” where police will stop suspectedindividuals and search their vehicles and pockets looking for contraband. The Bureau of JusticeStatistics found that blacks are three times more likely than whites to have their car searchedduring a stop (Kahn and Martin). Police do not typically practice these measures when patrollingwhiteneighborhoods(Levine).Thesetypesofactionshavecontributedtotheracialinconsistencies that exist. Both racial bias and racial profiling by the police have causedhundreds of thousands of people to enter our justice system unnecessarily. Additionally, theyhave created a general mistrust of police officers and dug a wedge into police-communityrelations.
- Fall '14
- Cannabis, Hashish, Legality of cannabis by country, Legal and medical status of cannabis