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Weeding out injustice

May 3, 2018

 

BRYN YOUNG

News Editor | bjy001@latech.edu

 

YOUNG

 

April 20 is a date synonymous with a few different things. It is the United Nations Chinese Language Day, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting and, as you probably know, the day for marijuana enthusiasts to celebrate their preferred plant.

 

The attitudes on marijuana in the United States have changed drastically in recent years bringing many states to legalize its use in some shape or form. But, as legal weed powers ahead, the consequences of years of policing the drug remain locked in place.

 

While many in legal states spent their April 20 celebrating the now legal drug, many inmates arrested for possessing and distributing it are still locked behind bars. These economies are soaring high on the same drug that got nearly 8.2 million people arrested from 2001 to 2010. While many are still piecing together lives destroyed by a drug arrest, the pot industry is likely to pull in $11 billion in revenue in 2018.

 

As our nation moves forward with marijuana legalization and legislation, we must not forget those serving time. Non-violent offenders who have been incarcerated for possession or distribution deserve to be freed and have their records expunged as part of marijuana legalization. It is unjust and immoral to punish those who were arrested for what many are now profiting on.

 

Ending this imprisonment is also a chance to fix the racial injustices the system was built around. The war on drugs has primarily targeted black communities. Black people have been four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession even though usage rates of the drug are similar between black and white people.

 

As a result, we see more black drug offenders being locked away even if their white counterparts are getting away clean. As the industry starts to boom, it is very likely it will become yet another instance of the rules being broken to help the rich and white while the rest are punished.

 

There is hope, though. Many voices in media and politics have echoed these sentiments and are likely to look for solutions. Although many Americans can now enjoy pot in a free and easy way, we must not forget those whose lives were destroyed by the same product only years ago. As voters, it is up to us to ensure that an legalization efforts are also amnesty efforts for those victimized by the war on drugs. Let’s finally right the wrongs of decades of racist policing tactics before taking advantage of the new laws and the billions the industry will rake in.

 

Bryn Young is a junior communication major from Mountain View, Arkansas, who serves as news editor for The Tech Talk.

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