Racial Disparities in Marijuana Use

Marijuana legalization is a political issue about which I’m acutely passionate. I haven’t personally come in contact with the drug, but many people I know and love use it for either recreational or medical purposes. Marijuana has multiple benefits such as treatment for chronic pain, muscle spasms, epileptic seizures, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, and other illnesses; decreasing anxiety and PTSD; and soothing Parkinson’s tremors and pain or discomfort from chemotherapy. Of course, just like any drug, marijuana can be harmful when used in excess as it can become addictive. However, the benefits of weed outweigh the risks. Legalizing the drug is important because of the racial disparities in reaction to its use. Although people of all ethnicities use some form of marijuana, black people are still the most criminalized when it comes to using or selling the drug. According to a study conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union, black people are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana use or possession than white people, though the drug is used almost identically by both parties on average. Prisons in the U.S. are filled with nonviolent offenders, many of whom are black men and women, imprisoned simply for the possession of marijuana, while white users gleefully open apothecaries and dedicate articles to how they openly use the drug in their lives. Marijuana must be decriminalized if black men and women have any chance of using the herb as freely as their white neighbors. Instead of wasting tax dollars on incarcerating nonviolent minorities, each state should legalize marijuana in an effort to eradicate the disparity between black and white users and take advantage of the drug’s positive benefits.