The Race To End The Drug War

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 1 2012 @ 8:36pm


The Dish has previously covered how pot arrests disproportionately affect African Americans. From a current snapshot:

In Washington, more than 90 percent of the people charged for cannabis last year were black, according to the Washington City Paper. The city is slightly more than half African American. In Philadelphia, about 43 percent black, the percentage has exceeded 80 percent over the last few years, according to the Philadelphia Weekly and Gettman’s figures. In Chicago, 78 percent of the people handcuffed for hay in 2009 and 2010 were black, the Chicago Reader reported last year. The city is about one-third black. Whites, also about one-third of Chicago’s population, were 5 percent of those arrested.

Cord Jefferson sees signs of hope:

In New York City, for instance, minor marijuana arrests are down thanks to a Bloomberg-backed effort to give leeway to people in possession of small amounts of the drug…. [A]nd the Chicago City Council ruled last month to allow cops to give tickets to people in possession of fifteen grams of pot or less rather than arresting them. 

Some good news this week:

A decade after the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) filed its petition seeking to have marijuana moved from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the federal courts will finally review the scientific evidence regarding the therapeutic efficacy of marijuana. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals announced late last week [pdf] that it will hear oral arguments in October in a lawsuit filed by Americans for Safe Access (ASA) to force the government to act. The lawsuit, Americans for Safe Access vs. DEA [pdf], was filed in January after the DEA denied the CRC's rescheduling petition the previous July. The DEA took nine years to decide to do nothing about rescheduling marijuana.

(Photo: Marijuana legalization advocates and members of community groups attend a rally against marijuana arrests in front of One Police Plaza on June 13, 2012 in New York City. The New York City Council is set to vote on a resolution that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in public view. Governor Andrew Cuomo has urged the state's lawmakers to pass the law, which many say leads to the arrests of a disproportion of minority youths. By Spencer Platt/Getty Images.)