What is the first thing you think of when you hear these names? Bob Marley. Wiz Khalifa. Snoop Dogg.
You may immediately think music artists, but soon after the word marijuana has to come to mind. You know. Cannabis. Ganja. Pot. The devil's lettuce. One of the most controversial subjects right now (which is absolutely mind-blowing considering the Earth's resources are depleting, but I'll save that for another article). Does it sound familiar? There are probably some of you who hear the word marijuana and feel ignited inside because it is your favorite illegal pastime. Or you may hear marijuana and feel a little angry because you've watched the people you love build very toxic relationships with it. Or you might hear it and just feel quite indifferent.
I am a person who is obsessed with policy and thinking about how government officials make decisions on these types of things. As a person who is a part of Generation Z, I think it is important for all of us to open our minds and explore all the ideas surrounding the legalization of marijuana and how it would directly affect us as Americans.
The fact of the matter is the legalization of marijuana is exactly what many Americans need and want. We are all aware of the medicinal value of marijuana, but today I want to discuss how exactly the legalization of marijuana is what many Americans want from the government and how it can relieve some of the oppression on marginalized groups.
Let's start off by mentally preparing ourselves for me to say the words "legalization of marijuana" five hundred more times and review some statistics.
According to the Pew Research Center in 2018, 62% of Americans believe that marijuana should be legalized. That is about six in ten of all Americans. So that confirms the fact that over half of you reading this article very lit even thinking about the topic of marijuana right now. To be exact, in a room of 26 people, 15 of you would totally be down for the legalization of marijuana. Yeah, I'm calling you out.
So how is it that all of us know a "pothead" or a few yet weed is still illegal? It seems to be something that everyone does anyway, right?
In fact, that is about right. The 2013 Huffington Post Article, "This Is Why Marijuana Should Be Legal Everywhere," states that nearly 40% of Americans actually admitted to trying marijuana at least once.
And that's just the ones that actually admitted it. It's a super shocking statistic that everyone still smokes weed anyways, isn't it? Like I found it absolutely perplexing that the law that makes marijuana illegal and doesn't actually keep people from smoking weed.
And some of you may say who cares about what Americans want; our government officials make laws according to what's best for us. George Washington is rolling in his grave and say democracy cares. Isn't that democracy means anyways? I'm pretty sure the whole point of having a democracy is to get elected officials that make decisions according to what the citizens actually want. And over half of Americans want the legalization of marijuana.
So if the law isn't keeping anyone from smoking marijuana and going to bed every night dreaming for it to be legal one day, then what is the law doing? I have a few colorful answers to that question, but let's go with it's hurting the most vulnerable marginalized groups in our country. That's what it's doing right.
Now, maybe it's plausible that I am only bringing this point up because I am a person of color and I just really want you to feel bad for me. But once again, the statistics just prove otherwise.
The American Civil Liberties Union report "The War on Marijuana In Black and White" states, "[O]n average, a Black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though Blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates."
They go on to say that what makes this even worse is that in the counties where this is seen the most, only about 2% of the residents are black. So how is it that one of the smallest groups are way more likely to get arrested for marijuana when they are doing it at the same exact rate as everyone else?
The Drug Policy Alliance article, "Race and Drug War" states that "Nearly 80% of people in federal prison and almost 60% of people in state prison for drug offenses are black or Latino.
It's heartbreaking to hear these statistics, but it's even more heartbreaking breaking to personally know people who have gotten arrested for possession of marijuana, sat in jail for two weeks, lost all of their jobs, and come out absolutely hopeless with no way to pay their bills. All while there are other people all over the country who get caught smoking weed and get a slap on the wrist or a $75 dollar fine.
The law that makes marijuana illegal keeps dads from being home with their children. It keeps women from working. It keeps young people from going out in the world and making change. And a lot of the time, it gets you a felony and takes away your right to vote. These are all rights that people have fought very hard for.
I am well aware that the government would not be able to just make marijuana legal, and everything will be rainbows and sunshine from then on. But I DO know it is cruel and unusual punishment (shout out to the 8thamendment) to incarcerate people for things that people can do legally the next state over. The subject will definitely require more research and attention, and it's time to get started.
To wrap things up, I hope you are all now well informed on how the legalization of marijuana affects Americans. I hope I provided you with some new ideas on how many Americans feel about marijuana and how the laws revolving it affects them. The beauty of our democracy is that you can not be a pothead and still vote to make marijuana legal to give many people their freedom back whether it be fewer seizures, less jail time, or maybe even just a less crappy day.