Lara Herzog

Ever since Colorado and Washington  legalized marijuana, people have realized how much of a big business it actually is.  So far Colorado has brought in over $200 million in revenue, and now it’s even a bigger hotbed of tourist activity.  Just imagine the other states that are noticing the huge success of weed, best believe they’ll attempt to profit off of it.

But what do the faces of those profiting off of weed look like?

White and male of course.

For the longest time, black men and women have faced hefty jail sentences over petty weed cases, and if you think that’ll stop now that marijuana is legalized in  a couple of states, you’re wrong.

Just look at the arrests in Colorado as an example. Between 1986 and 2010, more than  210,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession according to a report from the Marijuana Arrest Research Project, and they still remain behind bars. 

Earlier this year, Michelle Alexander, associate professor of law at Ohio State University and author of  The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness   held an open forum on March 6 with Asha Bandele of the  Drug Policy Alliance.

Alexander basically broke it down to the core, as to who will make profits and who  will stay behind bars.

“In many ways the imagery doesn’t sit right,” said Alexander.  “Here are white men poised to run big marijuana businesses, dreaming of cashing in big—big money, big businesses selling weed—after 40 years of impoverished black kids getting prison time for selling weed, and their families and futures destroyed. Now, white men are planning to get rich doing precisely the same thing?”

Although Washington, D.C. recently decriminalized small amounts of  marijuana, what does the district plan on doing with those people who have already been arrested? Do they get to collect their get out of jail free card and continue on with their lives?

Probably not.

But sure, let’s make a bunch of white men rich(er) and allow them to sell the exact same product that landed these men and women in jail.

During the March 6 conversation, Alexander went on to further point out the fact that black men and boys have been public enemy number one, when it comes to the war on drugs.

“Black men and boys” have been the target of the war on drugs’ racist policies—stopped, frisked and disturbed—“often before they’re old enough to vote,” she said.

“We arrest these kids at young ages, saddle them with criminal records, throw them in cages, and then release them into a parallel social universe in which the very civil and human rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights movement no longer apply to them for the rest of their lives,” Alexander said. “They can be discriminated against [when it comes to] employment, housing, access to education, public benefits. They’re locked into a permanent second-class status for life. And we’ve done this in precisely the communities that were most in need of our support.”

The world of legalized weed is only going to line the pockets and benefit those who have benefited off of putting black faces behind bars.  Just think, it’s a win win for Colorado, make money from weed, and make money from the prison system.

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