Why Places Where Marijuana is Most Popular are Still Enforcing Prohibition

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is a Marijuana Prohibitionist

Enforcing prohibition of marijuana seems more and more a waste of time when looking at the data coming from states that have embraced marijuana legalization. New York is possibly the best example with a mayor that shares a mind with Jeff Sessions and where marijuana is incredibly popular. A recent report put out by SEEDO showed that more marijuana is consumed in New York City than any other city in the world including Los Angeles.

New York City is also where the racial disparity in arrests involving marijuana possession is incredibly present. Studies have shown that nearly every race enjoys cannabis at about the same rate, yet many more black men are arrested for keeping marijuana in their pocket than white people. New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio recently said about marijuana legalization, “It would become another corporate reality. And then, as we’ve seen with tobacco, there’d be a consistent effort to try and hook young people, and potentially spread something much more widely than it is even now. That worries me … That’s why I’m just not there.”

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By focusing on the phantom menace of Big Pot, de Blasio is dismissing the reality – and the very real harm – of Big Cop in New York City. Last year, nearly 18,000 New Yorkers were arrested for marijuana possession. The disparities in arrest records reveal stark, institutional racism in the city’s policing. Marijuana is popular among all races, but nearly half of people arrested for pot are black; 38 percent are hispanic. Whites, who account for 40-plus percent of the city’s population, make up less than 10 percent of arrests. In his campaign for mayor, de Blasio, whose own family is mixed-race, blasted such disparities as “unjust and wrong,” yet they have persisted, all but unchanged, on his watch, even as the overall arrest rate for pot as dropped.

A recent report from the Drug Policy Alliance presents hard data. When states legalize marijuana, “average” people stop getting arrested for it. This effect is both obvious and profound. Low-level marijuana arrests and/or court dates have fallen 98 percent in Washington state; 96 percent in Oregon; 88 percent in Colorado. Possession arrests in Washington, D.C., have nearly ended. In Oregon alone this decline represents nearly 13,000 people a year who are no longer subject to the vagaries of the criminal justice system.

It seems that the legalization of marijuana is something that some people are simply closed off to because they have been brainwashed into believing that marijuana is a gateway drug, is addictive, leads to violent crime and just hurts our culture in general. The marijuana prohibitionists like Bill de Blasio and Jeff Session refuse to look at any of the data that suggests something to the contrary, and that is the heart of the problem.


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Richard Lowe

Richard Lowe is a 14-year veteran of the financial sector with licenses as a commodity broker (Series 3) and investment advisor representative (IAR Series 65). Along with a focus on raising capital for the firms he was employed with, he also wrote and edited much of the content published by them. He holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts. He has been a longtime advocate for marijuana legalization due to the social injustices associated with marijuana prohibition and the strong potential for the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

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