The racist enforcement of drug laws in Washington

The initiatives which won in Washington and Colorado that legalized recreational marijuana use have histories.  In the case of Washington part of the history was state drug busts were statistically significantly weighted against persons of color.

  • From 2001?2010, blacks, Latinos and Native Americans were 14% of the state’s residents, but they were 25% of the people arrested for marijuana possession.
  • In comparison to an eighteen year?old white male driver, the eighteen?year?old Native?American male driver is four times more likely to be searched;African American and Hispanic search rates are much higher as well.

While the end of recreational marijuana busts in these states should reduce one vehicle for racist police behaviors, having identified these police behaviors we should look for other areas where it is continuing to happen and correct these as well.

These states have asked the Feds how they are going to respond and have not yet heard an answer.  In Washington 220 possession cases that were in the pipeline have been thrown out.

post 2012 election marijuana status by state

Light green – State with legal medical cannabis.
Medium green -  State with decriminalized cannabis possession laws.
Dark green -  State with both medical and decriminalization laws.
Purple – State with legalized cannabis.

It is still almost every reasonable persons hope that the three judge panel reviewing the reclassification of marijuana away from Category 1 will be swayed by the tremendous evidence of health benefits.  Even Business Insider is touting the health benefits.  From here this may move us to a place where there can be a federal tax on sold marijuana (as there is for $1.20 per pack on cigarettes).  In Washington state recreational legalization got 50K more votes than a popular Obama did.  Obama can take an easy liberalization step with a revenue advantage, or not.