Despite growing support for legalization and the lack of any clear scientific evidence of marijuana’s health hazards, police departments in the United States make an average of almost 700,000 arrests for marijuana per year. Prohibition has a particularly devastating effect on communities of color; there are racial disparities in pot arrests in nearly all cities and states and the eleven states with the highest disparity arrest black people at six times the rate of whites.
Congress can start to change this by taking up a bill introduced by Dana Rohrabacher that would prevent the federal government from continuing to prosecute citizens who are acting in accordance with their state’s marijuana laws.
In The Nation’s special issue on marijuana, editor Katrina vanden Heuvel sums up the only sensible way forward in our country’s approach to a drug that our three most recent presidents—along with 40 percent of Americans—admit to using.
Last weekend, Nation contributors Dr. Carl Hart and Laura Flanders joined Melissa Harris-Perry to discuss the growing support for legalization and the importance of putting race at the center of the fight against prohibition.