Thank you Dr. Martin Luther King Jr… today is a day which is celebrated by everyone. All ethnicities, people of varied skin hues, and faiths. Joining as one – our diverse populace with varied philosophies, which makes up our great social experiment known as the United States of America. This hard-fought for day of national celebration notates the distance our country has traveled since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. first sparked the start of the civil rights movement.
It was MLK and his visionary associates that fought for human rights and dignity, while experiencing unspeakable oppression in their battle for human equality.
On a much grander scale than marijuana prohibition, MLK battled the federal government and won human rights for many minorities in the US. It is with this thought, that one can’t help but to contemplate how Dr. King would feel about the oppressive “war on drugs” and the collateral damage it has heaped on so many minorities.
As a quick example: The dark heart of the New York City Police Department leads the nation in marijuana arrests. The NYPD is infamous for their minority snaring techniques that lead to countless recreational pot possession cases. During the last 15 years of New York City’s battle against buds, approximately 85% of the 500,000 + folks arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession have either been Hispanic or black.
Not to be outdone, the disparaging ratio between ethnic groups and marijuana citations is consistently slanted against minorities in a multitude of other American cities. From the District of Columbia to the inner cities of Atlanta the preponderance of pot busts fall squarely on the shoulders of the minorities which inhabit them.
“With minor variations, it’s the same everywhere,” says Jon Gettman, a visiting professor of criminal justice at Shenandoah University in Virginia. Gettman, says Allen St. Pierre of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, has been researching marijuana-arrest numbers more obsessively than anyone for the last 20 years, extracting them from data in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report.
Nationally, Gettman says, in 2008 black people were 12 percent of the U.S. population, but 31.6 percent of those arrested for pot possession in cases where race was reported to the FBI. (2008 is the most recent year for which detailed figures are available.) Source
As our nation (and the 420 community) celebrates Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent achievements, one can’t help but imagine the immense wisdom he could’ve bestowed on our community, as we battle with the federal government and their backwards approach to drugs, addiction and prison. As he successfully battled overwhelming racial discrimination in both federal and state laws– he represents a high watermark in our countries struggles for a common sense approach to things we don’t understand.