There is a mass imprisonment epidemic taking place across the United States. From the War on Drugs era on, the black community has fallen subject to systematic racism and prejudice implemented within American society, leaving them as the main victims of the growing incarceration rates for mariajuna related drug arrests and charges. In our nation’s capital, Washington D.C, a black man in 11 times more likely than a white man to be arrested for public consumption of marijuana (Drug Policy Alliance, 2018). 11 times more likely, yet evidence shows that black and white people use marijuana at similar rates. Further research into the ongoing drug war indicates that African Americans comprise 14% of regular drug users in the United States, yet are 37% of those arrested for drug offenses and 56% of those incarcerated for drug crimes (Rivers, 2019). Statistics such as this one clearly display the discrimination carried out by the law system when carrying out marijuana related arrests and incarceration. So the question still stands, why hasnt marijuana been legalized?
The debate over the legalization of marijuana has been driven by the argument that legalizing marijuana would significantly decrease arrest and incarceration rates, which would help the black population escape this mass imprisonment epidemic. A statistic from politician Cory Booker highlights that in 2017, more arrests were made for marijuana poession compared to the number of arrests made for rape, aggravated assault, robbery, nonnegligent manslaughter and murder collectively (Kertscher, 2019). Marijuana arrests now constitute nearly half (45%) of the 1.5 million drug arrests annually, and an estimated $4 billion is spent annually on the arrest, prosecution and incarceration of marijuana offenders (King, Mauer, 2006). 11 states have legalized marijuana, and 3 of which (Alaska, Washington D.C, and Oregon) have reported a drop in arrest rates by 90%. This statistic shows one of the many benefits of legalizing marijuana, the funding necessary for arresting marijuna offenders would greatly decrease, as well as just the amount of arrests as well. 90% is such a significant number in terms of dropping arrest rates, and a number like this would be extremely beneficial in fighting mass imprisonment for the black community for marijuana charge