I am glad the D.C. city council is “decriminalizing” casual marijuana use today so it is a small fine.
But by keeping it a crime to smoke it in public, they are basically saying college kids can use it, and African Americans young people east of 14th Street NW will be arrested when they do.
Here is the Opening Statement I wrote for the debate, and passed out as a flyer. (I actually quickly wrote extemporaneously a shorter, more biographical statement for the stage, more like the ones the other candidates were giving.)
Race and policing, the cost of the drug war in the District, were well covered by two of tonight’s sponsoring organizations. The Washington Lawyer’s Committee released a report last July on “Racial Disparities in Arrests in the District of Columbia.” and the ACLU released a June report on “The War on MArijuana in Black and White,” — two reports that showed that African Americans are 8 times as likely to be arrested in DC for marijuana possession as whites. This is actually twice the national disparity, where on average blacks are only 3.7 times a likely as others to be arrested. And marijuana arrests, and the racial disparity in arrests, both increased in DC between 2001 and 2010. Odd given that in a recent national poll D.C. residents were rated the most liberal electorate in the nation.
Our electorate is why the ruling political class seems to be on the verge of decriminalization marijuana possession in DC. Though most of our governing class, with one exception who is here tonight, want to keep a $100 fine for smoking pot in public. And it will still be illegal to grow it or sell it. And the other half of the drug war – all the other substances the government wants to tell you you can’t buy or put in your body – will continue. And as long as this is true, we can suspect that African Americans will still be arrested at 8 times the rate of everyone else.
But worse than that, for everyone, of every race, we will still see black market related gang violence. And young D.C. residents, badly served by public schools and our over regulated local economy, will still be enticed to go into dangerous black market drug sales as the only way to get ahead, and so they will end up in prison. The small steps D.C.’s political class has been taking, following, not leading, several other states, are not enough. They won’t end prohibition, black market profits, gang violence, and lives ruined by prison time.
Voting for me, and for our nearly full slate of Libertarian candidates, for a party that has supported decriminalizing all victimless crimes, ending the drug war, freeing the incarcerated, and expunging their records, is the best way to signal our Democratic incumbotacracy that you will not put up with their slow pace any longer!
Bruce Majors, Libertarian for Mayor