Ask Not What Pot Legalization Can Do For You

yes we can

Jamelle Bouie at Slate responds to the (still-drug-testin’) New York Times Legalize It Project with the proposal that pot legalization is an important opportunity to economically remedy the racist social costs of the drug war:

From 2001 to 2010, according to a 2013 report from the American Civil Liberties Union, blacks and whites had roughly equal rates of marijuana use, with small variations from year to year. Among young people ages 18 to 25, usage rates were higher for whites, and overall, more blacks than whites say they’ve never tried marijuana.

Nevertheless, blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

What follows is an extremely reasonable proposal:

In Colorado, voters have earmarked weed revenue for school improvements and other local services. Let’s say America follows suit and adopts the state’s model for legalization and commercialization. What should we, as a country, do with our marijuana windfall? The easy answers are the usual services and benefits: food stamps, unemployment insurance, medical benefits, and tax cuts.

But we should think deeper. If we legalize marijuana, it won’t just be for new revenues and savings. In part, it will be because we recognize the tremendous injury we’ve done to countless young men and women over decades of unfair enforcement of the law.